With over 200 years of paper manufacturing history, the construction of 300 homes on the site of Springfield Mill would require an ecologically sensitive approach. Concerns from local residents, former employees, and conservation groups needed to be addressed whilst ensuring the homes were built on time, meeting the much-needed demand for additional housing stock in the area. Although classed as brownfield, the site was adjacent to the River Medway, contained a large pond, and the northern half of the site was a mix of scrub-land and woodland, including a number of trees with individual and group tree preservation orders (TPOs). Further obstacles included a number of listed buildings as well as a World War II bunker.
During the consultation period, objections were minimal, however a number of caveats were raised including:
- Ensuring landscaping near the river was native and managed
- That connectivity between the woodland in the north and the park area in the south should be improved, possibly with a wider area of habitat on the eastern boundary
- The production of a detailed landscape scheme, arboricultural method statement covering arboricultural supervision, regular reporting, and a tree protection plan
It was on this final point that Redrow (through its partner, Twig Group) engaged the expertise and services of Gimbles Tree Works to support the arboricultural-related requirements. A contractor was required that had the combination of experience and scale to be able to manage large-scale arboricultural clearance work with an environmentally sensitive approach i.e. the use of hand tools, rather than machinery, where appropriate. It should also be noted that timber removal included some of the largest work Gimbles had undertaken, with some stems up to 20 tonnes in weight!
Gimbles contributed to Twig Groups Arboricultural Method Statement (AMS), which was then submitted to and approved by the local planning authority. The statement, adhering to BS 5837, detailed elements of the development that could impact in the loss or damage of the trees or root structure, taking into account site access, demolition and construction activities.
As with all construction projects, adherence to a strict schedule was essential. Gimbles produced a detailed project plan to ensure they were able to remain on-track and helping avoid calls for any Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LADs) claims.
In accordance with the AMS, Gimbles ensured arisings from the works were utilised for biomass production.
- Safely, successfully, and within agreed timescales, cleared the land in readiness to commence the building works at Springfield Mill
- Gimbles Tree Works worked efficiently around other contractors of various disciplines, without causing disruption to other parties
- The project required a high level of technical expertise to safely and sympathetically remove numerous over-sized trees from the site
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