Council owned housing firm fell trees ‘without consultation’
With Government proposals currently out for consultation which could see councils become required to consult communities before felling trees in urban areas, the article below suggests the proposals may not a bad thing! Whilst decision makers may see an urban area containing trees as rundown or under-used, community engagement or consultation will often draw out what people regard as important. With just under a month to respond to the Government consultation, we will watch to see if changes are made…
The project was put before councillors for a decision.
Trees were chopped down on a plot where a council-owned housing firm wanted to build apartments – weeks before an application was lodged.
Residents in Penkhull say they were unaware of plans to remove trees on the Chamberlain Avenue garage site while community leaders say families in the neighbourhood were treated ‘in a very bad way’.
It’s claimed the trees were felled in early September before Fortior Homes – which is owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council – applied for planning permission to demolish the garages to make way for 10 one-bedroom apartments.
Four local residents sent objections in to the council, highlighting parking problems they say already exist in the area. Other concerns included over development of the site and the two storey building overlooking existing homes on Colindene Grove.
However despite the concerns members of the local authority’s planning committee approved the scheme on Wednesday – but said the council needed to ‘do things better’ in future.
Resident Dr John Chinn, who spoke against the plans at Wednesday’s meeting, said: “The removal of the trees was carried out without any consultation.
“We have been there for 20 years and it is green and pleasant – we never saw it as a brownfield site but a green one. We are looking at loss of privacy and parking and traffic issues.
“There are a number of elderly people’s bungalows adjacent to the area and it’s often difficult as it is for carers and doctors to access those bungalows. It’s not just evenings, it’s weekends when a lot of professional people who work outside the area park their cars.
“It does appear to be a cut and dried council planning application.”
Councillor Andy Platt called in the plans for determination by the planning committee so it could be discussed in public after he was contacted by concerned residents.
He said he had been “riled” by the lack of consultation with residents about the tree felling.
“I can see from what’s gone on how it makes people feel,” he added. “They have made so many mistakes.
“They have really treated the local community in a very bad way and I feel upset about it.”
Fellow committee member Chris Robinson said: “I think moving forwards we need to be mindful that we do things better.”
But the committee voted to approve the plans by seven votes. There was one abstention.
A report to the committee said: “The proposed development would redevelop an under-utilised brownfield site creating 10 apartments in a sustainable location close to existing public transport and services.
“Currently there is little to stop the site being used for antisocial behaviour, with little overlooking or natural surveillance of the site from surrounding buildings and uses. The proposals would introduce an element of passive surveillance onto the site which is a positive design consideration in terms of designing for security and enhancing the built environment fr the benefit of the wider community.”
Speaking after the meeting Dr Chinn said: “I do not like the decision but I can see the place was becoming untidy. It must have been mooted at some point in the past those garages would be replaced because they had been allowed to deteriorate.
“It is going to impact on parking in Penkhull.”
This article originally appeared on StokeonTrentLive.
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