Monday, 1 December 2008

questions and answers on BUTE PARK ROAD

Questions on Bute Park Road project

We sent a number of questions that remain unanswered to Pat Thompson who is the project lead for the Bute Park lorry road and bridge.

Q. Removal of trees early in Spring.
Apart from the diseased beech, you said another tree (or two) was taken down by the boundary fence, indicating the north end of gap. Was this from your own inspection or would you please supply a record of this tree or trees taken down by the Parks Dept?

A. Answer from Pat Thompson Cardiff Council Bute Park road project officer

- 2 young Beech trees were removed immediately behind the metal fence at the time the large diseased Beech was felled. We think these were part of an original mixed Laurel and Beech hedge planted at the top of the bank because the trees in question were planted close together. It's also clear that the trees had received no maintenance and had not been thinned to allow normal development and growth. As a result the two beech removed were poor specimens and the remaining beech and Laurel are included in the Parks Service future programme for woodland management which incidentally will include the removal of several large diseased Elm trees. The approved landscaping / planting plan for the new access bridge will result in extensive new planting within this area.

Q. Unmapped champion oaks
Have you checked the two major oaks to the NE of the Nursery missing from your chart? Does this not reflect on the reliability of the remaining mapping of trees

A. Answer from Pat Thompson Cardiff Council Bute Park road project officer

- You refer to 2 unmapped Champion Oaks situated to the North East of the Nursery. These are not "Champion Trees” although they are fine specimens and make a significant contribution to the Park landscape. All the trees affected by the proposals are detailed in the specialist Arboricultural report which formed part of the Planning application .I am satisfied that the tree survey undertaken as part of the report is accurate

Q. Covenant
You promised to let us see the covenant(s) on Bute Park

A. Answer from Pat Thompson Cardiff Council Bute Park road project officer

Please see the attached details of the Covenant. This issue was specifically raised at Planning Committee.

Note from Anne - Did he send the covenant ….there isn't a covenant in that Conveyance he sent and it's to the Council as purchaser. Is this a pre-registration deed?

Q. Memorial trees and plaques: what agreement was there by the Council and payments accepted for erecting these? And were the people involved notified by the Parks Dept. of the scheme?

A. Answer from Pat Thompson Cardiff Council Bute Park road project officer

Memorial trees are part of the Councils overall city wide tree sponsorship scheme for Parks and some people choose to sponsor a tree in memoriam. The conditions of the tree sponsorship scheme allow the Council to “maintain and nurture the tree over it's lifetime” This includes pruning and other related maintenance work .We also reserve the right, if necessary, to reposition the tree after consultation with the sponsor.

Q. Lorries in the Park at present.
How many lorry movements through on average (50-100 per week in a press report) and how many of these are concerned with the Nursery plant business (of 700 000 plants per year)?
How many are large lorries – was the figure of 36 per year stated at Committee the number of artic lorries?

A. Answer from Pat Thompson Cardiff Council Bute Park road project officer

50 - 100 vehicles per week refers to the total number of vehicles accessing the park as part of the normal management and maintenance operation for the park and nursery. The majority are Council vehicles, tractors, mowers and essential staff. Access is required 7 days per week throughout the year. The figure of 36 lorries is again an average figure for large lorries delivering to the nursery .Apart from the production of seasonal bedding plants the nursery also acts as a storage area for trees. shrubs and bulbs used throughout Cardiff's parks and highways. The nursery also provides a civic floral decoration service .The nursery has a long established historic use for the above which goes back to the former Bute estate. As part of our Bute Park regeneration proposals our aim is to make the public more aware of the activities that take place in the nursery and to make it a focus for horticultural training as well as a resource for those who want to learn more about the heritage of the park.

Vehicle movements throughout the park are influenced particularly by seasonal factors and the park event programme.

Q. "Ensuring that all new developments or changes in the service are properly assessed for sustainability prior to implementation."
You said the basis for the scheme is in the Park & Green Space Strategy; can you provide a document showing how the balance of positives and negatives in that Strategy were assessed?

You mention improving site use and increasing income generation, but in the Strategy there are also eg.
11) To adapt operations to reduce their impact on the environment.
12) To adopt appropriate and innovative ways of working to respond to climate change and improve environmental quality in parks and green spaces.

A. Answer from Pat Thompson Cardiff Council Bute Park road project officer

-The Bute Park regeneration proposals were developed involving the team who developed the Parks and Green Spaces Stategy and they embrace the principles of that strategy for example by

11 Adapt operations to reduce their impact on the environment

Where necessary special tree soil is proposed to maintain gaseous and water exchange and prevent compaction. By significantly reducing travelling distances to and from the nursery and events area the proposals will reduce carbon emissions from vehicles and reduce the use of fossil fuels

By incorporating features to enable the park to better withstand the impact that vehicles have on the park the proposals will reduce damage and the need for reinstatement (does he mean the road?)

Using smaller vehicles will increase the number of vehicles required to complete deliveries and increase the amount of double handing all of which increase the environmental impact.

12 To adopt appropriate and innovative ways of working to respond to climate change and improve environmental quality of parks and open spaces

Reducing travelling distances will improve environmental quality by reducing use of fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gasses

Removing vehicles from the busier sections of the park will improve the environmental quality (and safety) of these areas for all park users.

- The hugely reduced travelling distances resulting from the proposals will significantly improve safety by reducing the opportunity for pedestrian / cycle conflict with vehicles. The current 5mph speed limit within the park will apply to the new bridge and improved paths however because of the reduced lengths of travel it will be much easier to enforce .For information the proposals will result in less than 40 metres of two lane road and a further 22 metres of new single lane road which includes the bridge itself with a further 80 metres of new paths and 80 metres of realigned path. The rest of the work will be to upgrade existing paths on their current alignment .The important point here of course is the fact that pedestrians , cyclists and wheelchairs already have to interact with what is predominately uncontrolled vehicle movement within the park and by taking traffic away from the busiest sections of the park, providing proper control of all vehicles entering the park as part of the new bridge proposals and reducing travelling distances this interaction will be significantly reduced . You refer to 36 “ high raised paths and 1 in 5 slopes. If fact the 36 " you refer to is the very maximum height increase and in many cases the increase in height will not be as much. The landscape statement submitted with the Planning Application refers to the following

- Reinstatement and grading of levels within the park to minimise the visual impact of any level changes

- Either side of paths and access roadways reinforced grass margins will minimise the impact of accidental vehicle overruns by preventing rutting. The grass verges will be graded to blend into the existing park grass surfaces using

In short the proposals will significantly improve the existing situation. Event traffic will continue to be stewarded and managed as part of the event management plan and we can ensure priority is given to pedestrians and cyclists wherever possible. As part of the park regeneration proposals the existing docks feeder footpath which runs north / south in the park to the bottom of Coopers Field will be upgraded and this will make a significant difference. We cannot however completely remove the risk of conflict and as the proposals develop we will take every opportunity to reduce this risk even further.

Decision to allow the largest lorries in the Park
You accepted this is a decision for the Parks service and referred to the Park & Green Space Strategy, which requires you to maintain and improve environmental quality, and to conserve and improve local heritage assets. So doesn’t any past practice to allow occasional over 30-tonne and artic lorries need to be assessed on this Strategy?

Q. Assessment following the Aboriculture report

As this shows that 43 trees will have to be lopped and raised roadways will have to be constructed, will you be reassessing the project under the Park & Green Space Strategy in the light of these significant impacts?

A. Answer from Pat Thompson Cardiff Council Bute Park road project officer

The impact of the trees has been considered at all times throughout the design process to minimise the impact. This has helped determine the alignment and design of the bridge and improved paths. 24 of the 43 trees referred to require crown lifting by the removal of minor pendulous branches which is consistent with work regularly undertaken as part of the ongoing maintenance operations within the park .Only 2 sponsored trees require more intervention than this . One requires crown lifting by a metre and one will be relocated .Where crown reduction is undertaken it will be carried out by competent staff to produce a balanced crown appropriate to the species. Reference has previously been made to “lollipop trees “this will certainly not be the case.

Safety of the Lorry Road design (4m wide, 36” high, grassed 1 in 5 slopes)
You accepted that lorries passing pedestrians, wheelchairs etc. on these roadways might be intimidating and problematic. How do you propose to address this problem – does it come under the Strategy’s “involve the public.. in partnership to manage parks and green spaces”?

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