Chief executive defends tree officer’s support for tree felling in conservation area

Anger as tree officer ignores mature trees importance to Conway Road conservation area

Cardiff council chief executive, Paul Orders has defended his tree officer, Ed Baker against accusations that he ignored the importance of mature trees to a historic part of Cardiff.

The complaint read:

We write to complain about Ed Baker, the council’s tree officer. His advice to the planning committee regarding the mature trees on Romilly Road, part of the current Suffolk House site is a matter of very great concern.

These trees are part of the Conway Road conservation area.  Furthermore they provide valuable visual appeal to the area and tackle air pollution, which is a growing problem in the city. 

It is beyond comprehension that an actual tree officer should flout conservation area status. 

Cabinet members regularly site conservation area status as an important factor in the future of the city’s development – e.g. the attempt to get such status for Guilford Crescent.  And yet here one of  your key offiicals ignores the status, in his advice.

I would ask that you immediately investigate Ed Baker’s advice to the committee, also his credentials and any meetings he has had with the developers of the Suffolk House scheme.

In response to the complaint, which was raised on the campaign’s behalf by Cllr Peter Bradbury, the cabinet member for culture and leisure, Paul Orders said:

I have spoken to the Head of Planning who has investigated the issues raised to help inform my response which is set out below.

With regard to consideration of the proposals at the Planning Committee of 20th March, Members of Committee were informed by an extensive 39 page report including objections raised and analysis of key issues including trees and Conservation Area considerations. The Case Officer made a detailed presentation aided by visual material so that Members could fully understand the nature of the proposal. Before debate, Local Members also spoke to outline the strong concerns raised by local residents. During the debate on the proposal, both the Council’s Tree Officer and Conservation Officer were asked by the Chair to provide additional guidance on their respective areas of expertise.

I am satisfied that the advice given by all Officers was appropriate. Additionally, I am satisfied that Members of Committee had a clear understanding of the key considerations, including impact upon trees and the Conservation Area, before making their decision.

In terms of wider concerns raised regarding the credentials of the Tree Officer, I can confirm that the Officer is suitably qualified, highly experienced and has undertaken his duties in accordance with standard procedure.

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