Barcham Trees, the Cambridgeshire nursery which has provided more than a million instant-impact trees for the urban environment in Britain, has been given the go-ahead by East Cambridgeshire District Council Planning Committee for the development of an arboretum, lake, visitor centre, restaurant and shopping area on part of its 300-acre site adjacent to the A142 between Ely and Soham. This unique and exciting development will create up to 40 new jobs.
The company, which is the largest container tree nursery in Europe, had support from a range of interests, including East Cambridgeshire’s tourism office and Soham Town Council. A report by planning officers stated there are no directly comparable visitor attractions in the area and that such a facility could only be beneficial to the local and tourist economy.
The focus of the 17-acre development will be a 12-acre arboretum, which Barcham’s managing director Mike Glover believes will fulfil several roles. “It will be aesthetically pleasing, educational, practical and a showcase for both our trade and private customers. We are the first major tree nursery to see such a facility as part of its remit, and our knowledgeable staff will be on hand to share their expertise with visitors. We see this as a natural extension of what the nursery does, which already includes the education of tree-care professionals and involvement with setting arboricultural industry standards”, he says.
The site will also include a lake, visitor centre, restaurant, conference centre, plant centre, shopping area and 150 formal car parking spaces, plus overflow parking. The nursery’s arboricultural director and chairman of the Arboricultural Association Keith Sacre emphasises the development will demonstrate best practice from its beginning through to completion and beyond. “More people than ever now appreciate the huge benefits trees provide for human health and the environment in general, and we are determined the arboretum will be a beacon of sustainability”, he comments.