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Consultant Team Meeting: A Case Study on the value of trees

Consultant Team Meeting 1

Convening our team of consultants from around the country, to share knowledge and learn from one another, is always a pleasure and July’s training meeting was particularly special as it was held at the Elephant Park regeneration site and gave the consultants who have been most intimately involved in this scheme the opportunity to share insights with colleagues into the complexities of this development.

The Site is being developed by Lendlease who kindly provided a room in their Site offices and access to the viewing platform.

Matt Searle, Principle Arboricultural Planning Consultant has been leading for our team on this project since 2015. Matt began by providing an overview of the project, setting the planning context and describing how trees are considered thorough RMA applications and how the trees are protected through the construction of each phase. Matt presented the detailed investigation measures that we have used confirm the locations of tree roots, such as Ground Penetrating Radar and AirKnife excavation, and the implementation of innovative protection measures that he has applied to support the successful retention of the 123 of the 406 mature trees, identified for retention by the original Tree Strategy and retained, with others, adjacent to major buildings in this £2.3 Billion project.

At the heart of the Tree Strategy, that informs all decisions about retention, protection and planting of trees for this development, is an innovative concept for communicating the value of the trees and carrying that message through from the initial design vision to project completion and the opening up of the public realm for public access and use. All trees, whether existing or proposed for planting have had their amenity value in pounds sterling calculated using Capital Asset Valuation of Amenity Trees (CAVAT). We have taken this value and modelled its growth with the trees over time for both the original tree population and the trees retained and planted for the development. Lendlease has committed to delivering the CAVAT value that the tree population would have reached if undisturbed plus 5% (£22.3m). This commitment has been enshrined in the planning permission for the scheme and continually informs decisions; from planting of over 900 large trees in the streets and parks of the Southwark to the transplanting of a 16m tall lime tree.

Consultant Team Meeting 2

Managing Director Luke Fay, who lead our team on the masterplan and outline planning permission, in his presentation, explored the benefit of being able to allocate a team with arboricultural and design expertise when engaging with and supporting engineering, landscape and architectural teams and Treework’s use of technology to respond immediately and illustrate and resolve issues by drawing together expertise of the entire design team when making decisions that affect landscape, infrastructure and buildability as well as trees.

Consultant Team Meeting 3Luke said: “we, and the whole project, have really benefited from our collaborative approach, drawing, not only on our arboricultural expertise but also that of our CAD and GIS technicians, surveyor and specialists in soil, tree planting, tree stability and planning matters. This approach is not that common in our sector and a complex scheme like Elephant Park needs this breadth and depth from all the disciplines that are engaged.”

A section of the day was spent exploring our approach to recording and sharing information across the lifetime of the project, including 2D plans, 3D modelling and 4D management, costs and value modelling. Matt and Luke demonstrated how our MyTrees GIS software and CAD expertise have been critical in delivering BIM compliant information and for managing and sharing information on the tree population both on and off site.

Consultant Team Meeting 4

After viewing the active site from the viewing platform and discussing the effectiveness of different forms of tree protection and how the islands of protected mature trees, currently surrounded by tremendous activity of site traffic, will fit within the final built environment to deliver a “landscape with a 40 year head start”, we moved to the park. Matt explained that the park, which already looks established with mature London planes casting dappled shade over benches and grassy slopes, is first phase of a green space that will eventually become the largest park to have been built in Central London for 70 years and will form the heart of the Elephant Park Estate.

Consultant Team Meeting 5

Finally, a walk around the local streets and green spaces gave us the opportunity to meet some of the 900 trees that have been planted in streets, parks and housing land of Southwark to support the delivery of the CAVAT +5% target and discuss the challenges for planting and maintaining trees within the public realm.

We discussed the impacts of this project on the wider sector as an exemplar for good practice including the awards that it has won, such as the London Tree and Woodland Award for Trees and Development, and its inclusion as a case study, for instance in TDAG’s First Steps in Valuing Trees and Green Infrastructure.

The day reinforced a sense of pride for what has been achieved so far and generated a buzz of excitement among the team.

You can stay up to date with the progress of this amazing project here: https://www.elephantpark.co.uk/category/news/

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