Anger as Norwich School hopes pledge to plant 700 trees will mean 12 in city centre can be chopped down
PUBLISHED: 07:14 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:33 10 July 2019
An independent school's bid for a new dining hall could hinge on whether councillors accept the controversial felling of 12 trees and the planting of 688 replacements, miles from the city centre.
The Norwich School is seeking permission from Norwich City Council for a new dining room, kitchen block and teaching facilities at its Upper Close site at Norwich Cathedral.
But the council's own landscape architect and tree officer have objected to proposals which would see 12 trees chopped down, including a 35 metre protected London Plane.
The Norwich School says, as well as planting 13 trees close to the new dining hall, it will plant 688 trees and 126 hedging plants on land it owns at Horsford - six miles away from the city centre - and at its Redmayne playing fields, off North Walsham Road.
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But the council's landscape architect Zoe Tebbutt objects, saying: "Given the remoteness of the planting from the city centre and the limited environmental public benefit to the city and the street scene, it is not considered to directly account for the loss of an important tree and group within the city centre."
City Hall tree officer Mark Dunthorne also objects, but planning officers recommend approval. They say the loss of open space and "valuable trees" would "cause harm to the city's townscape, to biodiversity and to the city's air quality and overall environment", but the benefits of supporting the Norwich School's development and securing community access to the new buildings outweighs the harm.
Steffan Griffiths, the Norwich School's head master, said the new trees would offset the loss and said: "The city council recognises considerable community gains will result from the subsidised community use of the new dining hall as a function, conference and events space and the subsidised hire of the new teaching facilities during evenings, weekends and school holidays.
"We are pleased that officers feel able to support the application and hope elected members will allow for this much-needed new facility for the city to be built."
However, Green city councillor Lesley Grahame said: "I don't have a problem with them building a new refectory, but they could do that without chopping down the trees."
A decision will be made tomorrow (Thursday, July 11).