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Spikes could prevent pigeons damaging King’s College stonework - and messing on the porters

By Josh Thomas | Local Democracy Reporter

Kings College, Cambridge
Kings College, Cambridge

Measures to stop pigeon mess damaging the stonework at King’s College - and landing on porters, visitors and university staff - have been proposed.

Pigeon mess at Kings College
Pigeon mess at Kings College

Spikes and plastic inserts could be installed to prevent the birds nesting in the historic façade of the college.

A planning application has been submitted to Cambridge City Council, which will be considered by the planning committe on September 27.

A design access statement submitted says pigeons are perching and nesting on and in stone crown features on the college’s facade, which are “starting to look unsightly”.

The statement says the pigeons are “causing damage to stonework” and says their droppings are “causing mess and coming in to contact with college staff that are posted at the gates throughout the day as well as visitors and paying customers”.

Kings College viewed from the river
Kings College viewed from the river

It has been decided that the stonework would be “too fragile” for fixings to support wire or netting - and experts say these are often ineffective and can cause birds to become trapped.

Instead, the plan is to fix standard stainless steel pigeon spikes to the roosting sights keeping their application minimal to reduce their visual impact. A clear, neutral silicone will be used to attach them.

Adam Gardner, deputy clerk of works at King’s College, said a pest control company had advised on the best possible course of action.

Mr Gardner said: “Where birds are nesting under the crown shaped stone features, nests would be cleared, and a plastic insert could be fitted – inside the crowns again without fixings and using neutral silicone – to deny pigeon access into the void.

“We feel this would be the most sympathetic deterrent method negating the need to drill the delicate stonework.

“Access to grounds and amenities on the site will not be affected by any part of the completed works proposed and the method with least visual impact has been identified.

“At present access is impeded due to mess on floor and potential for material to fall from above the gates.”

The college was founded in 1441 by Henry VI and its famous chapel, which boasts the world’s largest fan vault, was finished in 1544 under Henry VIII.

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Rough sleepers camp out beneath horse chestnut tree outside King’s College Chapel


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