We are seeking permission to install a 30cm-wide replacement underground pipeline near to the existing pipelines that run through the Queen Elizabeth Park.

Our application (for Development Consent) seeks permission to work within a typically 30-metre- wide area next to the southern boundary of the park (our Order Limits).

However, to reduce the impact on trees and how people use the park, we have committed to using narrow working methods through the park.

We will not be removing 25% of the trees within the park.

We will not be closing the park, nor stopping pedestrians or cyclists accessing the park from Cabrol Road and the A325.

We have created a detailed Site Specific Plan to provide further detail on the potential impacts, construction techniques and mitigation measures in Queen Elizabeth Park. This was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 30 January 2020 at Deadline 4.

Summary of our proposals

  • We are seeking development consent for our replacement pipeline. Our application contains a detailed environmental impact assessment and provides a framework for permission and installation requirements that we must legally work within and deliver upon.
  • Through the park we have asked for permission to work within Order Limits, which are 30 metres wide. As the Order Limits do not cover the whole of the park, we will have no ability to close the park completely.
  • Within our application we have committed to use narrow working methods, contained within the 30-metre-wide Order Limits. The width of the Order Limits gives us flexibility to move around features, such as veteran trees and unknown underground features. We will only find these underground features once we start to work within the park.
  • The narrow working commitments we have made are to use: a maximum of ten metres for the open-cut installation of the pipeline through the park and a maximum of five metres for the above ground stringing of the pipe for the trenchless technique from Stake Lane. Stringing is where sections of pipe are welded together on rollers ready to be pulled back through underground.
  • We will only fence off the working areas while they are needed for installation or reinstatement.
  • Where we plan to install the pipeline through the park, we will use an open-cut technique. This requires a 1-metre-wide and 1.6 metre deep trench. We will roughly follow the existing footpath. Where we are digging near tree roots of veteran trees (within their Root Protection Areas) we can use hand digging or air spades to protect the trees.
  • The area where we plan to install the pipeline contains fewer mature trees than the rest of the park and is heavily populated with rhododendron.
  • Because of the flexibility of the methods we can use, some of which are outlined above, we will not be removing 25% of trees from Queen Elizabeth Park. The 25% of trees being removed is not an accurate figure.
  • Our engineers are confident they can work around, or protect the roots of, many of the mature trees within the park, including the large beech tree, the Fairy Tree, “T42” which is in our Schedule of Notable Trees.
  • Where we do have to remove trees and rhododendron, we will replant with native trees and shrubs. There will be a six-metre-wide protective strip over the replacement pipeline, and this will either be covered by a new woodland trail incorporating a new footpath, or we will plant native bushes and plants.
  • We will replace the playground with new equipment after installation and we are also working with Rushmoor Borough Council to provide a temporary play area during the works. This could be within the park or nearby.
  • The construction compound near Cabrol Road will only be used for installation within the park. It will not be in place for two years. It will always be safe and secure. Our team is used to working in residential areas and will keep the area surrounding the compound clean and safe.
  • Our current estimate is that we may be working within the park for up to 12 months. However, this would not necessarily be continuous due to the different techniques we would be using, which require separate machinery and would have variable periods for installation. We will not be closing off the park or stopping people accessing or travelling through the park. There will be access for pedestrians and cyclists from Cabrol Road and the A325. Vehicle access and parking will be maintained from the A325.
  • The memorial benches are outside of the area we are seeking permission to work within (our Order Limits).
  • We believe that the construction compound and installation works in the park will not exacerbate the surface water drainage or flooding that occurs on Cabrol Road.
  • We understand that our working in the park will create disturbance and disrupt how people currently use the park. This is why we have also offered to create a woodland trail, improve two ponds within the park and remove some rhododendron outside of our Order Limits. Rhododendron is an invasive plant that the local council is currently trying to clear from the park to improve the environment. These are part of our Environmental Investment Programme which we are discussing with Rushmoor Borough Council.

The Neighbours and Users of Queen Elizabeth Park group submitted questions in their written representation to the Examining Authority (Planning Inspectorate). Our response can be found here.

Your questions and concerns answered

Our Order Limits only take up some of the park. The rest of the park will remain accessible and can continue to be used as it is now during installation.

Pedestrian and cyclist access will be maintained from Cabrol Road and from the A325. There will be a pedestrian route through the park, in the area north of our Order Limits. Vehicle access and parking will also be maintained through the existing entrance and car park in the northeast of the park off the A325.  During reinstatement, we will re-lay the path and provide lighting throughout the existing footpath route.

We have offered to Rushmoor Borough Council to provide a play area within the Queen Elizabeth Park or nearby during construction (Rushmoor Borough Council have suggested Cove Green, however we understand there may be access issues). After construction, the existing play area will be reinstated with new equipment.

We will not be removing the memorial benches. These are situated outside of our Order Limits.

Our engineers are confident they can work around, or protect the roots of, many of the mature trees within the park, including the large beech tree, the Fairy Tree, “T42” which is in our Schedule of Notable Trees. Our engineers aim to work around other mature trees within the park where able to do so. Therefore, we do not anticipate that all mature trees within our working areas will be removed. Some smaller trees, shrubs and rhododendron will be removed, but these will be replanted with native species where practicable.

We will be providing security at all installation sites and construction compounds, including security lighting and suitable fencing. In this area it may be necessary to have a 24-hour security warden on site, and this decision will be made when we have our contractors on board next year.

Environmental Investment Programme

As part of our voluntary Environmental Investment Programme, we have also offered to Rushmoor Borough Council to further invest in the park, during and after construction, in the following ways –

  • Clear Rhododendron to support the Council’s current efforts, which will increase light availability and create a more diverse habitat
  • Create a new woodland trail with wildflower planting along the existing path
  • Improve two ponds within the park

Next steps

Examination on our application for permission (known as Development Consent) ended in April 2020, with a decision expected in October 2020.

We intend on sharing our detailed plans, such as when in the two-year construction period we will be working in the park and where within the Order Limits (the outer limits of the project, including any working areas) we will be working. If we receive consent in October 2020, then we will be able to share these plans two to three months afterwards.

Construction of the pipeline will then take place between 2021 and 2022.