A group of eco-minded Ruddington residents is expressing its dismay and disbelief that a major housing developer suddenly changed its mind about allowing them to plant a long row of trees on its land – and didn’t even tell them!
As we reported on Monday, Bloor Homes East Midlands had given Brookside Residents’ Action Group (BRAG) for ‘The Queen’s Green Canopy’ (QGC) the go-ahead to plant a line of trees on a 223-metre long strip of ‘wasteland’ between its new bungalows and their existing houses. BRAG were led to believe this ‘void’ (which a resident recalls was even mentioned in Bloor’s original planning application to Rushcliffe Borough Council) would otherwise be left ’empty’ after its new ‘Fairham Green’ development off Wilford Road was completed. Therefore, last summer, neighbours with back gardens bordering the site approached the housebuilder about planting trees there (indicated by the green line below) to honour Her Majesty’s memory.
Responding that they “definitely would like to collaborate in a joint project” Bloor Homes even agreed to fund the purchase of 106 Dwarf Hornbeam trees for the residents along Brookside Road and Brookside Gardens to plant all along this ‘void’ – although the neighbours would have to do all the tree planting themselves. The developer also agreed these trees could be planted at the residents’ side of the temporary mesh fence – to enable planting to begin to meet the deadline for the official ‘QGC Map’ (31st March 2023). With time being of the essence, two Brookside Gardens families were out last weekend clearing weeds and brambles from their stretch of the planting strip, in readiness … before Bloor dropped its bombshell.
MP for Rushcliffe, Ruth Edwards, has been actively supporting BRAG’s project. As recently as March 15th, she was assured on an email from Bloor Homes that Brookside residents’ newly planted trees in the ‘void’ would not be damaged when the permanent fence was eventually erected, confirming: “I can pass this onto our site teams to ensure that due care and consideration is taken when they are working around this area.”
With a width of around two metres marked out by blue pegs along the boundary beyond the temporary mesh fence, a tree-lined ‘wildlife corridor’ was envisaged, which would also provide a natural ‘green screen’ between the new and older properties. However, ‘alarm bells’ started ringing on Tuesday morning (21st March) when one neighbour saw subcontractors beginning to put in the permanent fencing only inches away from the existing houses’ boundary – rather than along the line of blue pegs – as shown in the top photo. She was told they’d had instructions from Bloor Homes to “put the fence as close to the boundary as possible”! The fencers halted work temporarily when another BRAG for QGC member intervened to explain their apparent blunder. However, erecting the fence along exactly the same line restarted on Wednesday.
RUDDINGTON.info has contacted Bloor Homes on behalf of angry residents demanding an explanation. A spokesperson told us: “We sincerely apologise for any confusion caused between Bloor Homes and the residents in light of the work that has gone into this project. We are still committed to paying for the trees and have suggested two alternative locations on the development which would meet the timescales for the Queen’s Green Canopy planting.”
Bloor Homes now denies there was ever a ‘void’: “With regard to the ‘wildlife corridor’, this is something that is discussed at planning level and is considered as part of the overall landscape and Public Open Space (POS) strategy for this site, for which there is no requirement on this part of the development. We remain committed to the additional wildlife initiatives accommodated in the design of the open spaces, which are intended to attract birds, butterflies and bats, and we continue to work with the residents to support the tree planting this month.”
In a separate communication to BRAG for QGC, Bloor also said it’s still in full support of ‘The Queen’s Green Canopy’ and will accommodate the trees onsite in either the location shown on the POS plan (highlighted in blue) or alternatively, if they wish, the trees can be accommodated in residents’ gardens.
Although we also asked Bloor Homes why they had suddenly changed their minds about the long planned tree planting initiative, whether they could not plant the same row of trees in what will now be the bungalows’ back gardens instead, and how current residents are now supposed to access and maintain their existing fences and hedges with a tiny gap that’s too narrow even to squeeze into, their spokesperson did not answer those questions.
A BRAG representative says: “Bloor now suggesting alternative areas on their site for our tree planting really defeats the object of having it at this end as planned. There is no open space where existing residents are – reasonably there should be, and still could be. Bloor’s wildlife initiatives are accommodated around the rest of the site so it’s not fair they have been totally omitted at our end.
“The other locations Bloor suggests will not provide the green screen or narrow wildlife corridor that would also allow existing residents reasonable access to their back, to maintain their borders. It is still totally in the gift of Bloor’s to allow The QGC of trees on this edge of the development as they and we intended. They say they’re committed to working with the community, so they should do the right thing; listen, and allow the trees to be planted along this stretch. Surely anyone sensible higher up the chain at Bloor could resolve this, if they wanted to, instead of causing all this unnecessary upset?”
Ruth Edwards MP says: “The Queen’s Green Canopy was a fantastic idea from residents in Ruddington and a wonderful way to celebrate our late Queen. I am very disappointed that Bloor Homes have now gone back on their agreement and I shall be writing to them on behalf of residents asking them to honour it.”
BRAG agrees, saying: “It’s inconceivable Bloor Homes has decided to drop this bizarre bombshell on us on the eve of our tree planting next week. It makes no sense for them to effectively pull the plug by narrowing the planting gap from a few feet to a few inches when we’ve been in collaboration for 8 months. Even if there has been “internal miscommunication” at Bloor’s end about the void, it’s still not too late to allow The Queen’s Green Canopy as agreed with them behind our back borders. Residents are urging them to please reconsider.”
Rushcliffe Borough Councillor (and Ruddington Parish Councillor) Cllr Mike Gaunt is also not happy with the housebuilder: “It’s a real shame that all the hard work of residents seems to be at risk due to this strange decision” he says. “It also looks as if Bloor might be in breach of their planning conditions, which I will follow up with officers at the Borough. It seems like a simple fix for them to have a re-think and then support this initiative which has tried to mitigate the impacts of their development on the surrounding houses. Hopefully they will come to their senses soon.”
The residents’ group has learned that late payment by Bloor Homes means DW Frost (Fosseway Nurseries) at Car Colston will now be unable to begin delivery of the Dwarf Hornbeam trees to Ruddington until next Wednesday, 29th March. Meantime, neighbours are being consulted to reach a consensus about where they’d like the first batch of new trees to go.
Although there’s only a week left until The Queens’ Green Canopy deadline, BRAG for QGC is still hopeful the original plan to plant all the trees in the void will prevail.