Green project faces demolition dilemma
VOLUNTEERS with a popular eco-project have been told a row of classrooms and workshops will have to be pulled down to allow new cables to be laid.
Peterborough City Council’s growth team broke the news to staff and supporters of The Green Backyard, in London Road, during a meeting held there yesterday.
UK Power Networks need to dig up a large strip of the urban eco-hub, beneath a row of workshops built by volunteers, to replace existing oil cables with four new power lines.
The energy provider expects the work to last from September 2012 until spring 2013 but the land cannot be used again by the eco-project.
It has left Green Backyard staff considering relocating the project to a new site once their ‘peppercorn’ lease for the 2.3 acre site expires in May 2012.
A council spokeswoman confirmed that UK Power Networks’ statutory rights of access to a cable run located on the western boundary of The Green Backyard site was the subject of yesterday’s talks.
She added: “Currently UK Power Networks does not have clear access to its cable run due to various temporary buildings which have been put up over the cabling corridor by The Green Backyard.
“We are working with The Green Backyard and UK Power Networks to redress this situation as soon as possible.
“We also used yesterday’s meeting with The Green Backyard to discuss its future use of the site, when its existing licence expires.
“The London Road site is part of the South Bank Opportunity Area which must be kept available for future developments.
“Consequently we are not in a position to offer a long lease of the site. We would however hope to agree terms with The Green Backyard for a further short-term occupancy, when its existing licence comes to an end, although the cable corridor would be excluded from any future licence.
“We are happy for the group to remain on the site, providing the temporary buildings are shifted away from the cable route. Alternatively, we are happy to assist the group in moving to another location in the city where a longer lease can be agreed.”
Green Backyard project manager Sophie Antonelli, who said she did not know the power lines were there before the buildings were put up, was determined the community garden would not come to an end.
She said: “We will need to remove all of our buildings which is a significant setback. They’re the product of three years work and thousands of volunteers’ hours that have gone into them.”
“We want to work with the city council as much as possible and they want to work with us to see that as much of what we’ve achieved here is salvaged and the project’s momentum is carried into the future.
“I’m feeling a bit numb, sitting next to the buildings now. A lot of love is invested in The Green Backyard so to have to remove any part
(METP-21-12-11PF005) is going to be hard, but we’re keen to get the best out of the situation and look to the future.”
Phil Spiby, for UK Power Networks, said that controlled access to the London Road site would have to be introduced for the cable-laying work.
He said: ”The work will take place along the route of our existing cables and for health and safety reasons this will be fenced off and we would have to manage access to the allotments. However, aside from the controlled access it is not envisaged that the work will impinge on the operation of the allotments.”
About 20 volunteers and supporters gathered at The Green Backyard while the hour-long meeting took place.
Council deputy leader Cllr Matthew Lee called The Green Backyard an excellent community group.
He said: “While we appreciate the site is important to the South Bank development project it will be a great loss to the Fletton and Woodston area. I will be talking to officers at the council about how they are progressing this matter.”
upheaval: Green Back Yard project manager Sophie Antonelli with volunteers after meeting with the council over the future of the community project.
Pictures: PAUL FRANKS