No elm in ecology report

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FURTHER thoughts on the St Mary’s Site and the Weeping Elm.

Having recently re-read through the Aspect Ecology report for Tesco Stores, we can find no mention of the Weeping Elm being identified as a major feature on the St Mary’s site. Surely such a distinctive feature tree that has had numerous attempts made for Tree Preservation Orders, some appearing to date back to the demolition of the hospital buildings, should have appeared in this report. 

Such a major omission surely brings into question it being used by the council as a definitive ecological report for the St Mary’s site, and could form the basics for asking for a further independent evaluation even at this late stage.

The Ordnance Survey Map of 1852 distinctly shows a stream going across the St Mary’s site, with springs and ponds highlighted on higher adjacent land. If the pattern of this stream was the same as other similar areas around the town, comprising of a marshy area bordering the stream, this will explain why the area between the Workhouse and Clifton Street was not developed until outbuildings including the laundry were added to St Mary’s Hospital in later years, some of the area never having been built on. Because the land was converted to a temporary car park soon after demolition of the buildings, any signs of this may have been buried. Has a proper survey been carried out to identify any underlying problems of potentially peaty pockets or poor drainage?

If there is an underlying problem of spring water, any development may cause it to change direction, with possible costs to the Taxpayer. There is also an underground passage leading from the West Riding Hotel that appears to go across this land, can anybody throw light on this, and how far has it been investigated?

Further research into the Weeping Elm, on all maps dating back to the building of the Workhouse in 1858 show a circular bed with trees or a tree in the same place as the existing tree. Why would it be so distinctly shown? And after 150 years why can it not be treated as an historical feature? Take a look at this beautiful weeping tree as it comes into leaf, and its age actually adds to its beauty.

Although disappointed after our meeting with Tesco and the council officers, we will continue the fight to protect this beautiful weeping tree in memory of St Mary’s Hospital, and in new guidelines recommended by the National Tree Safety Group entitled ‘Common sense risk management of trees’ a more sensible attitude has been adopted for aging trees, and in the light of this new risk management approach we are appealing once again for a Temporary Protection Order.

Weeping Elm Group and Friends

Columbus Ravine