Homeless people are living in an iconic tree on King’s Parade – and Cambridge University is trying to stop them.
The university is aiming to put up a fence around the large horse chestnut in front of King’s College chapel in a bid to prevent “repeated incidences of anti-social behaviour” and reported drug use.
According to a method statement submitted by consultants Lockhart Garratt along with the application, the fence is necessary to prevent rough sleepers from using the tree canopy as a shelter.
The report says: “There has been repeated incidences of anti-social behaviour with rough sleeping and drug use occurring under the canopy of the horse chestnut on the front lawn at King’s College.
“The University therefore want to erect temporary fencing during the period when the tree is in leaf and these activities are occurring, restricting access and helping prevent the anti-social behaviour-taking place.”
The fencing is intended to be temporary, and will be designed to be inconspicuous in the tree.
“It is proposed to use post spikes to support fence posts with fencing similar to chestnut pale fencing or wire mesh, covered with willow screening,” the report reads. “This will allow flexible positioning of the posts and fence to avoid roots and branches, a limited number of internal secondary branches may require pruning. Fencing would be positioned to avoid large branches or adapted go around them.
“The fencing would be taken down during the winter when it would be visible whist the tree is without leaves.
“The proposed method of installation of temporary fencing would not cause any significant damage or detriment to the tree’s health or long-term viability.”
On Tuesday (June 19) Cambridge City Council’s housing scrutiny committee is due to discuss measures to tackle homelessness in the city.
Cllr Tim Bick, leader of the Liberal Democrats at Cambridge City Council, has been vocal on the issue of rough sleeping in Cambridge. He acknowledged a lot of good work is being done, but said the issue has not gone away and that more needs to be done to help people sleeping rough.
“We are a prosperous city,” he said. “Which is all the more reason it is incumbent on us to make sure we have an impact. We are a city that cares and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can.”