Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Nature not Roads in Bute Park

I understand that the HLF believes that the success of the project will depend on the success of the new access bridge. However I can not accept that as there is a glaring lack of environmental and sustainability concerns and a focus on improving site use and increasing income generation.

It is unlikely the bridge will be welcomed by users of the Park. Already people including Friends of the Earth, cyclists groups, living streets, the Green party, The Welsh Historic Garden Trust are horrified at the proposals.

Not only horror at the bridge but also as it leads on to raised Lorry Roadways, 8 metres wide, pretending to be Paths in our Park and very many trees will be damaged or ‘crowned’ to allow lorries to pass.

I attended a meeting along with Max Wallis on the 2nd Nov 08 with Pat Thompson and John Maidment (part of time)

Pat Thompson Parks, Commercial Development Manager and project leader Bute Park Road or the facilitator he claims. Managed the St Davids 2 project, now in charge of the city centre/Central Square and St Mary Street project.

Castle and Parks are joined together. Parks have to raise adequate investment to protect the asset (Bute Park, Castle etc.) Economic stability, working on environmental project Limited resources from WAG for statutory and non statutory functions. Parks are non statutory except to provide allotment land.

Cardiff has a duty of care - self sustaining - they have 1600 hectares and 300 parks in total to manage.”

He goes on “The management position is based on the Parks and Green spaces strategy 2007” although he didn’t have a copy to hand.

Pat Thompson Parks Commercial Development Manager, focus is on improving site use and increasing income generation while ignoring the sustainability and the environmental focus of the actual policy.

The parks and green spaces strategy calls for “Ensuring that all new developments or changes in the service are properly assessed for sustainability prior to implementation.” And “ ensure that all new development in parks is designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimum resource wastage.”

Have a look at the policy below (1). Have the parks department and the project team adhered to it?

Pat Thompson Parks Commercial Development Manager tells us that money from the car park in Sophia Gardens pays for grass cutting. Income comes into parks. The ethos is protection –

Pat Thompson insisted that the initial work undertaken by the council was to remove one diseased tree. He claimed the soil was banked up to provide a bed for the tree to fall on. Another tree (or two) taken down by the boundary fence (north end of gap, he indicated). Failed to answer which way it was intended to transport the trunk away (have dropped the claim that the boundary gap was to haul the trunk out).

Pat Thompson Commercial Development Manager said the drilling equipment was used for site investigation.

Bute Park restoration project dates from 2002. It is not commercial as it is run by the council. Planning for nursery is independent of the planning for the bridge.

Said they had a leading expert to assess the trees and advise.
(Planning report says: “an independently commissioned arboriculture
development statement … proposes a number of recommendations regarding root protection and canopy reduction works to facilitate the development.
• 43 trees would require works to canopy/crown
• 2 trees are considered capable of relocation as part of the proposed
landscaping proposals.

In areas where the arboricultural report has indicated potential damage to tree
root structures which may be caused by the weight and wheel overrun of
heavy vehicles, the paths would be upgraded using a ‘no dig’ foundation
technique whereby the surface level of the existing paths would be re-laid and
raised by a maximum of some 350-400mm using a ‘cell webb’ construction
and would have reinforced grass buffers (cell webb and Amsterdam tree soil
with top soil and turf over) to either side, feathered down to the existing
surrounding land level.”

Unable to explain the omission of two ‘champion’ mature oak trees and others to the NE of the Nursery from the map in the publicity material – grounds for mistrust by friends of Bute Park.

I hope that HLF will ask about this?

What about the people who paid for memorial trees and a plaque for loved ones in a tranquil area of the park? Have they been contacted or their views sought?

Cllr Simon Wakefield asked if there shouldn’t be a size limit on lorries going through the park and what did Pat Thompson say to that? He looked surprised and said it “the size of lorries using Bute Park was never a consideration” The parks department can restrict size if they want to. Pat Thompson, commercial development manager, said this wasn’t for him to consider.

They said the remit was to plan for the largest size of lorry accessing the Nursery and for lopping to protect the trees from these lorries. They could not say how that decision was made, referred us to the Parks and green spaces strategy but I can't find any mention of expanding the Nursery operations with more/bigger lorries in that.

On the basis of the vehicles using the park the parks produced a brief. We asked to see this and a copy of the covenant. We hope they might send it to the HLF and us.

The road through the park to take articulated lorries is 40cms high, above previous path, to protect trees! This is a special system designed to protect the tree roots although this means that the articulated lorries will damage the trees so they are to be ‘crowned’ their lower branches taken off as if they where in city street not a park.

The raised road has a slope at each side of 1 in 5. We are concerned about the safety of wheelchairs and pushchairs getting out of the way for articulated lorries.

Pat Thompson, commercial development manager, said that another path along feeder was being considered to make pedestrians safer. The new road being potentially dangerous!

He didn't deny the number of 50 - 100 vehicles per week average. The number of vehicles will increase with the new education centre and events.

Covenant – said the Covenant applied south of the line of Corbett Rd and agreed to let us have a copy. Didn’t know whether it prevented commercial trading (ice cream) for which the Council charges.

No comments: