NEW trees are to be planted in a popular park as a result of work to revamp a multi-storey town centre car park.
Members of Torfaen Borough Council’s planning committee had already given their approval for the work to add new cladding and create a new staircase at the multi-storey car park at Glantorvaen Road in Pontypool in April.
But at that stage they were told all trees on the site, which is owned by the borough and is next to the Civic Centre, would be retained.
However tree and landscaping information, which had to be submitted to the council’s planning department by as a condition of the April permission, has stated it is intended to remove six of 17 trees on the site.
As a result 21 fruit trees would be planted in the orchards at nearby Pontypool Park “to mitigate the loss and provide ecological enhancement”.
Planning officer Mia McAndrew also told the committee the crown of five trees would be reduced to provide 2.5 metre clearance for the proposed construction work to take place and for scaffolding to be erected.
As well as planting new trees in the park, one sweet gum tree would be planted to the front of the car park, with two others and two hornbeam trees planted at the rear of the car park, the top floor of which also serves the Tesco supermarket. The ground floor was previously used by council staff but is now open to the public.
The trees to be removed, and their quality as described by the council, are a very low quality common aspen, three low quality common ash trees, two moderate quality hornbeams and a low quality group of trees including hornbeam, common holly, elder and wych elm. All other vegetation surrounding the car park, including common weeds and grasses, will also be removed.
Pontnewydd councillor Stuart Ashley had asked for clarity on the trees to be planted at the 1980s built concrete car park as he said they would need to be “suitable for the site” which he described as “quite dark” and a “fairly hostile environment, to be frank”.
He said there are similar problems with planting at the shopping centre in Cwmbran and said “trees needed to be tough enough.”
The Labour councillor also said he was “particularly pleased” about the proposed planting in Pontypool Park.
Pontypool Fawr Labour councillor Gaynor James said: “To me it’s a no brainer they’ve got to be removed for the construction to go forward. We all want to have this and I’m pleased to see the extra trees are going to be going down into the park.”
The revamp of the car park is part of £9 million regeneration project, which is being supported by £7.6 million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund, and is intended to provide secure parking to encourage visitors to use the new restaurant at the converted public toilets on Hanbury Road and visit the planned cultural hub at St James’ Church.
The application to discharge the planning condition related to tree and vegetation removal and replanting was approved unanimously.