HNF response to Haringey’s Parks and Greenspaces Strategy

by | Nov 27, 2022 | Open Spaces, Plan, Sustainability | 0 comments

We welcome Haringey’s efforts at producing a Parks and Green Spaces Strategy in these difficult times and welcome this consultation giving us a chance to express our views and make some input.

The full Parks and Greenspaces Strategy under consultation is at the time of writing still available online.

General Points

  • The strategy is thorough and and the headline objectives sensible, especially in a focus on inclusion and wellbeing and sustainability in the face of climate change. Working with Friends groups and the community is recognised as important and should be further built upon. The crucial importance to our wellbeing of green spaces, recently demonstrated by their importance during covid lockdowns, and how wellbeing can be brought to an even wider public through communications and engagement.
  • The definition of Open Space should be extended to include our ‘Urban Forest’; Street Trees, Planting Pits, Verges, Planters, Living Walls and such like, in its definition. This “Urban Forest” is of particular significance in areas where there are few parks and little open space. Haringey has more control over Highway planning and street planting, whatever form it may take, and is therefore more likely to achieve its aims.
  • We would suggest that it would be easier to follow and assess the impact of this strategy, if there were a map showing all the green spaces in Haringey rather than just giving a list. For instance, we do not know what is meant by, “Archway Beds and Coleridge Gardens (Archway Road)” in appendix 1.
  • Although Haringey does not own, or directly own, Highgate Woods, Alexandra Palace and Park or Tf L land along railways and verges, they make a significant contribution to the overall Environment. The plan should have section on how to engage with these open spaces as partners, in order to have a coherent, overall vision for Parks and Open Spaces, and a strategy for achieving that vision.
  • As well as planting new trees and creating new Nature Reserves and SINCS, Haringey should emphasise retaining mature trees and maintaining and enhancing its current Nature Reserves and SINCS
  • It would be a good idea to provide a summary of the main points of the strategy in a ‘leaflet’ version which might also be online. Those interested can be directed on to the full strategy and resources. There is too much detail for most people to engageMetricsCanopy cover is an easy but crude measure of environmental and ecological welfare. It shows where there is little or no greenery but in areas with a high proportion of canopy cover, it is difficult to see any changes. If a large tree is felled, the canopy of the trees underneath will s=ll be measured and if smaller trees are felled, the remaining large mature trees will hide the fact.

Nevertheless the trees, with all their benefits, will have gone. It is also difficult to measure severe pruning by measuring canopy cover.
Haringey should supplement and enhance this metric by :

  • Where they can, Haringey keeping a record of all trees planted and felled.
  • Street trees planted by Haringey should be closely monitored. We have an impression of afairly high failure rate but it is unclear whether any statistics are kept. It should be remembered that the targets for planting street trees should be supplemented with a target for maintaining street trees.HighgateThe Strategy emphasises Parks, of which we have none in Highgate, at least in the borough of Haringey. The lack of Highgate Parks in the Haringey plan makes the area feel marginalised. While we totally support an emphasis on tree planting and greening the centre and east central part of the borough, we would like it acknowledged that the leafy nature of Highgate provides an ecological centre, and a carbon sink for the whole borough. Highgate can play a major role in delivering this strategy.

    The Community Engagement Officer should find ways of ensuring access to the both the green spaces of the west and east of the borough, to all residents of the borough. People from the central, part of the borough, Wood Green/Turnpike Lane make great use of Alexandra Park but Haringey could try and facilitate access to the great amenity resources of Highgate by people living in less advantaged areas. For instance they could publicise where bus routes approach the circular walk running from Alexandra Palace, to the Parkland Walk, to Highgate Woods, to Queens Wood through Crouch End Playing Fields and back to Alexandra Palace; or Finsbury Park along the Parkland Walk to Highgate Woods, again The Parkland Walk to Alexandra Palace and along the New River to Finsbury Park. We agree that the bulk of Haringey’s resources should be used in the less verdant parts of the borough but some resources should be put into maintaining the trees and bio-diversity in Highgate, for the benefit of the whole of Haringey.

    The emphasis in Highgate should be on retaining the existing trees as well as planting new ones. We have read that, “To replace the carbon capture lost by felling just one mature tree requires the plantng of at least 500 saplings.” While we feel this claim to be exaggerated, it remains the case that new planted trees take many years before they make a significant contribution to absorbing carbon dioxide and reducing pollution. They also need significant maintenance in the first few years while they establish.

    As noted above, canopy cover is a crude measurement, particularly in a leafy area such as Highgate. We have noted that in July, August and September, 2022, there were 63 applications to fell trees in the Haringey Highgate area. Not all of these have been felled but, no doubt, some trees have been felled without applying for permission. This is major loss. Over the years other trees have been felled by Transport for London, other public landowners and Haringey itself. Few replacement trees have been planted. The problems of retaining and replacing trees on Haringey’s land, can be addressed by this strategy; the problems of retaining and replacing trees on the land of the major landowners, can be addressed by engagement with those landowners, but there s=ll remains the major problem of trees in private gardens and trees threatened by insurance claims.

In Highgate private gardens play a significant role in the environment, mitigating climate change, maintaining bio-diversity, acting as a carbon sink and etc. As the council has few legal powers and tittle influence on private land the emphasis should be on education, negotiation and persuasion. For instance:

  • Each planning application should be assessed for implications for garden land, biodiversity and the environment. Advice should be given, on appropriate planting, green roofs, walls and etc. This would be particularly appropriate where there is a pre-application engagement.
  • All applications for works to trees in a Conservation Area, should have a response and where works are deemed inappropriate, the applicant should be advised, given guidance on environmental alternatives.
  • Haringey should produce a webpage and leaflet outlining why trees and planting are important and giving advice and suggestions of what might be planted and links to relevant websites
  • Haringey should be more pro-active in making Tree Protection Orders.
  • Haringey needs to challenge insurance/subsidence claims more effectively. This should include working with other boroughs and using the Joint Mitigation Protocol developed by the London Tree Officers Association.These suggestions would be appropriate for all of the Borough and could be used where there are applications for crossovers, as well as development of gardens.Detailed PointsIntroduction pg 4
    Increase tree planting across the borough and develop strategies to increase canopy cover across public and private land in the borough.
    There should be more of an emphasis on retaining mature trees and more detail on what strategies might be developed to encourage major landowners in Haringey to increase canopy cover or, rather, the number of trees and amount of vegetation.

    To establish new local nature reserves and sites of importance for nature conservation and create new wildlife habitat every year in parks and greenspaces
    Similarly there should be more emphasis on preserving and enhancing the current nature reserves and wildlife habitats.

    Pg 10 Directly deliver:
    • Community gardening and tree planting on estates and trees What does “ trees” mean in this context?

    “Women at the heart of designing parks”
    It is unclear why women should be at the heart of designing parks

    • Plant street trees un=l each ward reaches 30% canopy cover

    • Plant 10,000 new trees by 2030
    The aim should be to, “ plant, establish and maintain, 100,00 new trees by 2030.”

There should also be an aim to retain existing mature trees.

• Work to create three brand new nature reserves by 2026 and introduce Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation
Again there should be an aim to maintain and enhance existing nature reserves and Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation

pg 11
• Host or support more music festivals and events
If this is a way of involving more people and a greater diversity of people in parks, it is to be welcomed. However if it is a way for Haringey to raise money for parks, it becomes more problematic.

• Turkish and Kurdish theatre festival
We would prefer to see Theatre and Music Festivals reflecting the diversity of Haringey’s population

pg 16
• The partners should include Residents Associations, Community Groups, Civic Groups and etc Parks and Green Spaces should include our ‘Urban Forest’ Street Trees, Planting Pits, Verges, Planters

Pg 26
• To reduce insurance claims and provide a robust insurance defence evidence base (subject to an effective inspection process)
We hope this includes trees and subsidence claims as well as liability claims in parks

Other notes

Wildlife corridors between green spaces and linking with private gardens are not featured. The Highgate Neighbourhood Forum is developing an initiative in this space bringing together local stakeholders with responsibility for green spaces in the Highgate area in order to foster information exchange, cooperation and collaboration on the development of development strategies which will benefit wildlife; mammals, birds amphibians and insects. For this to be effective it needs to extend into the public realm including greening of suitable boundaries, road and rail edges, and neglected ‘micro-spaces’.

Practical approaches towards the goal of zero carbon management of green spaces is also something we hope to work on in Highgate and would appreciate knowledge sharing as this comes together.

Working cross-borough is important. Notably the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum area spans Haringey and Camden. The forum area includes the largest park Camden council is responsible for; Waterlow Park, and this lies on the borough boundaries of Haringey and Islington. Again information and knowledge sharing between those responsible for green spaces management in neighbouring boroughs will be vital to effective management and development in the future.

Identifying the different motivations of various green spaces user groups, and their varying understanding of the spaces they use is important to achieving a balance between potentially conflicting or even incompatible demands. The Waterlow Park Trust is considering these issues and again information sharing between boroughs and bodies will be important to maximise the usefulness of learning and initiative development. A shared ‘ontology’ in this area would be very helpful. The success of opportunities for social engagement and cross cultural and generational gatherings and activities are dependent on a good understanding of user groups, and a viable engagement strategy which should be adapted to reach those who are most likely to benefit. There are particular challenges of engaging those who are younger, the less socially confident and minority groups.

Volunteers are crucial to green spaces. Their involvement benefits green spaces and users, and also enhances the wellbeing of volunteers themselves. This is recognised in the strategy, but it is easy for authorities and contractors to forget to engage when planning and therefore build on the energies of members of the public who would appreciate both an understanding and involvement in their green spaces. It is particularly important to work with friends groups, but also community centres, health professionals (looking for opportunities in social prescribing) and schools. Conservation Management Plans are a good example of initiatives which should be developed with Friends groups and engaging the wider community. In the Highgate area there is a ‘Volunteer opportunites’ leaflet which provides a matrix of organisations mapped against the various opportunities they provide. This kind of approach made more widely available via an online platform which is London wide would encourage the engagement of more people. This obviously needs to be wider than Green Spaces. The principle expressed in the strategy of ‘Active People, Active Place and Active Economy’ is laudable.

Local authorities might usefully collaborate in providing support and training to Friends groups and volunteers. Working with other authorities to share expertise and resources would maximise quality and reach of such an initiative.

Louise Lewis and Ian Henghes

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