Building site contractors are told: Hands off our meadow!
Neighbours take a stand to protect wildflower patch ahead of cabin office construction
29 May, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson
Neighbours form a ring around the wildflower plot near their homes
BUILDING contractors aiming to erect a temporary two-storey cabin office on Whittington Park’s wildflower meadow are being met with protests.
Work on 19 new homes forming a new block on the Wedmore estate has been given planning permission and the cabins are linked to the scheme.
But contractors Wilmott Dixon’s decision to set them up on a wildflower meadow bordering the estate wall saw disgruntled residents surround the patch of land on Wednesday to stop it being damaged.
It is understood the cabins are now set to be installed on the wildflower meadow next month.
A petition addressed to Islington Council calls on it to save the patch of land, and has gathered around 500 signatures.
“It’s a strange decision by the contractors and the council,” said Simon Rudd of Wedmore Street, who compiled the petition.
“What I understand is that Islington parks have said that there’s a little path that runs along the wall and they don’t want to block that path. But there are lots of other entrances and paths available.
“Even so, to move it onto a thriving habitat which residents enjoy every day is not sensible. People feel really strongly about this.
“I would say it’s the hub of the community. Most of the residents in the immediate community, particularly at the Holloway Road end of Wedmore Street, don’t have their own green space, so they rely on this park and the wildflower meadow.”
He added: “This is their garden. It’s the thriving centre-piece of the park.”
Daniel King, also of Wedmore Street, has opposed the construction work from the planning stages.
He told the Tribune the meadow was well loved in the estate, and said the choice of location for the cabins demonstrated showed residents’ views counted for little.
“The meadow is for the wild flowers, trees and good clean air,” said Mr King.
“It’s our garden, and the construction work has already taken enough outdoor space from us.
“Everyone is being very stubborn about this, but the contractors should move the cabins somewhere else.”
Mr Rudd said he hopes the petition will produce an explanation and justification for how the meadow was chosen.
“A lot of us are not opposed to the building work at all. We need social housing. But they should find another location for these cabins. There are plenty of alternative spots in the park.”
“I’ve lived on the street for five years, and the meadow has been here for at least 10 years. It’s designed to encourage wildlife and help with the greening of our city.
“It seems absurd to put two storeys of cabin offices that will destroy the flowers for at least this season. We hear this might go on for two years, it will dampen the ground and have other impacts too that are unseen.”
The Town Hall confirmed the cabins are to be built on the wildflower meadow, which it said would limit the distance builders have to walk between the cabins and the site.
“This will minimise the impact on the park and mean that more of this popular multi-use park is available for people to use – in particular those that do not have their own private outdoor space,” added a spokesman.
The council said it was also committed to re-seeding the meadow, and that it would pay for an alternative meadow to be seeded in the park while the cabin is in place.
The Tribune contacted Willmot Dixon but did not get a response to a request for comment.
Twelve of the new homes will be social housing.