Green project faces de­mo­li­tion dilemma

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk & World Update - By KELLY PIPES kelly.pipes@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

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

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