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Shock as Cambridge residents’ hedges felled for £24m Milton Road work





Horrified residents have watched as hedges and bushes bordering their front gardens have been chopped down to make way for a bus lane and cycle paths along Milton Road in Cambridge.

Milton Road Residents’ Association has complained of a “communication problem” between householders and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), which is clearing trees and bushes bordering the pavement in order to widen the road.

Milton Road trees are felled to make space for the changes planned by the GCP. Picture: Keith Heppell. (57860180)
Milton Road trees are felled to make space for the changes planned by the GCP. Picture: Keith Heppell. (57860180)

Although the boundary line was marked in plans published by the GCP, which is carrying out a £24million improvement plan along Milton Road, many residents have been taken by surprise when they discovered front gardens they have tended for decades are deemed to have fallen within the boundary of the roadworks.

Now some gardens that previously had flourishing hedges only have stumps remaining, as contractors chopped back any plants deemed to cross the boundary line.

Trees and hedges have been cut down on the bounday of gardens in Milton Road. Picture: Phil Day
Trees and hedges have been cut down on the bounday of gardens in Milton Road. Picture: Phil Day

The GCP, however, has said households were informed - and stressed it would be enhancing biodiversity along the road with new planting.

Charles Nisbet, chair of Milton Road Residents’ Association, told the Cambridge Independent: “A lot of the houses had been there some time, and it seems the gardens had overgrown the legal boundaries of their land and the highway. And so when they thought they had a nice thick hedge, it had actually started out as a thin hedge within their boundary when it was first planted and has grown forward.

“It’s very awkward. I think if we had known in advance about the plans for this cut-back people wouldn’t have been so upset. But the GCP didn’t think to tell us and we didn’t think to ask. At some houses there’s an appreciable cut-back and people are understandably upset. If the contractors have damaged hedges that are within someone’s land, they should pay compensation.

Milton Road artists' impression Picture: Greater Cambridge Partnership (58000137)
Milton Road artists' impression Picture: Greater Cambridge Partnership (58000137)

“Residents just never knew where the boundary was because it wasn’t obvious. I’ve been there 27 years and until now, I didn’t know where the boundary lay. When you buy a house you get an A4 sheet showing the boundary of your property but unless you actually take measurements you don’t know the exact size of the land.”

He added that his own home appeared to be unaffected.

Another Milton Road resident took to social media to complain, stating: “Despite the repeated assurances by the GCP at countless residents’ meetings that they wouldn’t be damaging or compulsory purchasing owners’ gardens, they’re now very quietly and without consultation ‘reclaiming’ parts of gardens to hack down trees, hedges and shrubs that have been in place for 50-plus years and give privacy from the noise and traffic of Milton Road. Absolutely disastrous for residents - if you’re affected in any way by future schemes and plans of GCP be very cautious with assurances they give.”

Milton Road trees are felled to make space for the changes planned by the GCP. Picture: Keith Heppell. (57860179)
Milton Road trees are felled to make space for the changes planned by the GCP. Picture: Keith Heppell. (57860179)

Two years of roadworks began last month as the Milton Road upgrade project got under way. The works will include the installation of a state-of-the-art CYCLOPS junction at Milton Road/King’s Hedges Road as well as segregated cycle and improved bus lanes.

Residents had been anticipating that a number of the mature trees along the grass verge would be removed during the work.

A Greater Cambridge Partnership spokesperson said: “The Milton Road project will provide safer and more reliable bus and active travel journeys between Cambridge and communities to the north to help cut congestion and improve air quality along a busy route in and out of the city.

“In some areas existing vegetation and hedges extend beyond private property over the highway boundary, and so we need to cut these hedges back to construct the scheme. We wrote to all households affected to inform them and discussed this at Local Liaison Forum meetings. We also offered to meet those more likely to be significantly affected.

“As part of our commitment to the environment, we will be planting 194 new trees and 4,611 square metres of rain garden and wildflower verges to significantly enhance biodiversity along Milton Road to create a greener gateway to the city.”



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