Open University, Milton Keynes

Project Description
Hayden’s were commissioned to undertake an Arboricultural Assessment (Health and Safety Audit, and Subsidence Evaluation) on an area of woodland within the central area of the campus, adjacent to one of the originally erected university buildings. Engineers had shown that the building was suffering subsidence damage and a key element of the brief was (i) to provide informed advice as to whether the structural movement was precipitated by trees, and if so (ii) which specimens were specifically implicated.  With Hayden’s working as an integral member of the project team, the initial site visit, tree inspection and associated Arboricultural Subsidence Evaluation formed a key element in determining a cost effective and practical solution to both repairing the building and protecting the majority of the woodland environment in an area prized by the University for its amenity benefits.

Hayden’s Requirements

  • Site visit and detailed inspection of trees.
  • Preparation of Arboricultural Report and subsidence evaluation drawing.
  • Liaison with project/design team comprising University Estates Manager, engineer, insurance company.
  • Preparation of Arboricultural Options Report.
  • Preparation of Arboricultural Management Plan.
  • Liaison with Forestry Commission to obtain felling license.
  • Tendering and managing tree works.
  • Supervision of tree works.
  • Design and specification for re-planting.

Project Challenges
The project involved investigating the relationship between the trees, the building and the soil type. Information supplied by the engineer showed that the soil was shrinkable whilst the foundations were shallow. Calculations undertaken by Hayden’s confirmed that a number of high water demand trees were located within the influencing distance of the building. Furthermore, historical investigations undertaken by Hayden’s confirmed that the trees in this location were once a woodland set amongst fields, but had become entirely “walled in” by the erection of buildings during the last forty years. This led to a major change in soil hydrology. Hayden’s then produced a variety of arboricultural options and recommendations allied with management proposals that, working in partnership with the engineer, would provide practical solutions. These were then discussed by the project team, who armed with thoroughly researched holistic data were able to make an informed decision to fell specifically identified trees. The project prompted a high level of interest at the University, with concerns being raised about the loss of the woodland. As such a diplomatic approach was essential. Through Hayden’s thorough liaison, all interested parties were kept fully informed during the stages of tree inspection, felling license application, tendering and tree removal. Clear and accurate presentation of the proposed tree management ensured that the concerns were allayed. The outcome was a cost effective and practical solution that caused minimum disruption to the operation of the University and protected the majority of the woodland, whilst providing new and appropriate planting elsewhere on campus.

Project particulars

  • Client – The Open University
  • Structural Engineer – Thomasons