By Les Mills, Bute Parks Alliance
What is it about Cardiff Council Planning Department? Cycling through Llandaf Fields yesterday morning I saw some workmen working near some quite beautiful Lime and Sycamore trees bordering the edge of the park. I assumed they were simply pruning some of the trees as they often do.The tree line bordering the park stretching from Penhill Road all the way over to Western Avenue are mostly mature Lime and Sycamore and they are quite spectacularly handsome as are most of the trees lining the edges of the parks – they contain and define the limits of the Park acting as reassuring green barriers and giving parks users a sense of removal from the largely anodyne surroundings bordering the Parks. It is the main reason why people retreat to the parks to relax, unwind and enjoy themselves in a largely rural, less polluted and more tranquil green environment to enjoy a multitude of pursuits.
Three hours later, returning the same way, I looked over to where the workmen had been and what I saw stunned me. What had once been a solid green wall of mature trees was now violated by two huge treeless gaps in the wall of trees revealing mounds of building debris, torn vegetation and earth moving machines in the building site behind. Shocked, I approached some workmen and asked them why they had removed the trees and they simply said, “Because we were working under Council orders” and they named the official in charge. When I said why were those particular trees removed- were they rotten? They said, “No they weren’t rotten, we don’t know why but it was probably to give the future owners of the apartment blocks a clear view of the parks” If this is true then we are astounded at the ramifications of this. It would mean that the council had prioritised the future comfort and enjoyment of a small number of private owners of the apartments over the enjoyment and pleasure of the huge numbers of the public at large in one of the most beautiful parks in the UK. It is as if the Council members or Officials who make these rash decisions have never heard of the aesthetics of landscaping, bio diversity or even Climate Change and have no respect for the opinions and views of their electorate.
I walked over to the Penhill traffic lights to where the entrance to the building site was and I was astounded by the sheer amount of excavations being undertaken in order, I presume, to construct the foundations for the apartment blocks and lay garden areas. Looking down into the gap I could see through the large gaping holes into the open grass field of Llandaf fields whereas previously the view was blocked by the sycamore trees. So it seemed to confirm the view of the workmen I’d spoken to earlier i.e. that some future owners of the apartments would be able to have an unrestricted view of the parks because of the removal of those four mature trees. Could it be that this would be a strong selling point aimed at potential purchasers of the apartments? If this is the case then it is a scandal that decimating beautiful mature trees on public land would have occurred for the benefit of private developer’s profit. Bute Park Alliance will write to local councillors to demand an explanation for why the trees were removed in such a blatantly ruthless and unnecessary way. We feel that this senseless destruction of mature trees in Llandaf Fields runs contrary to the Councils’ stated views that they are committed to a policy of tree preservation throughout the city and especially in the Parks.