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Mature and young trees all set to be part of city centre green artery

SWANSEA’S city centre green artery will have more trees than ever before when the multi-million pound upgrade is complete, the council has pledged.

Apart from 170 additional new trees being planted in the coming months, many of the existing semi-mature trees already lending themselves to the ambience of the city centre will remain.

In Orchard Street, for example, 14 of the 22 trees currently planted there are staying while 25 more trees are being added to the mix. It means that when the work is complete there will be 39 trees in Orchard Street compared to the current 22. In total there will be well over 200 trees in the city centre when the green artery is complete.

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment, said:

“The last thing anyone in Swansea wants is a concrete jungle in the city centre. Our plans will bring a park-like feel to key streets in the city centre, making it more accessible and more attractive for residents, shoppers and visitors alike.

“The tree felling we are planning will, for example, remove those which are unhealthy or where heaving roots are causing problems by cracking-up pavements or underground infrastructure like drains and gas pipes or nearby buildings. Some that have outgrown the location in which they were planted will also need to be replaced.

“When the work is completed there will be lots more trees, lots more greenery and a much more welcoming ambience in the city centre.”

And Cllr Thomas pledged:

“While the upgrade is taking place we will have an ecologist carrying out regular tree inspections to make sure nesting birds and roosting bats are not disturbed and the trees where they’ve made their homes are not cut down.”

He said:

“The council knows that people are always going to be concerned when there are plans for tree-felling. That’s why we want to reassure people that they will see more – not fewer – trees in the city centre, including many of those which are already here.”

Andrea Gordon of Guide Dogs Cymru and chair of Visually Impaired West Glamorgan welcomed the council’s move to deal with trees where roots are creating a hazard on the pavement.

She said it was important that any trees lost were replaced and added: “To people who may not understand the trip hazards, we would say, actually, root heaving is a real problem for people who are visually-impaired.”

Lamp-posts, bins and cars parked on pavements were always a concern, but she said: “Visually-impaired people, especially older people, will often be unsteady on their feet and may not see the tree roots. It can be very disruptive.”

And she added that trees located in tree pits where there was no risk of the roots lifting the pavement and causing a trip hazard would be supported.

The council’s programme to introduce almost 170 new trees is part of the ongoing £12m regeneration work that is transforming The Kingsway and Orchard Street into a green artery for the city.

The wide variety of new trees – including flowering cherries – will be ideal for the city centre and will complement extensive new grassed areas planned for The Kingsway.

Large grassy areas are being laid on Kingsway next year and the new trees – planting will begin in November at the start of the growing season – will be placed in specially-designed tree pits with root containment systems so they mature without damaging pavements, underground infrastructure or create trip hazards for pedestrians.

The city centre green artery project is part of a wider regeneration programme that includes a new Digital Village for the Kingsway as well as new public areas, landscaped parkland, cycle tracks and a two-way single lane vehicle route along with the creation of wider pedestrian walkways.

The Kingsway Infrastructure Project includes £4.5 million of WEFO funding which will assist with the demolition and refurbishment of buildings along the route.