Mansion owners in country park forced to remove new terrace harming huge oak tree
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Owners in a mansion in a country park could soon be forced to remove a recently built terrace that’s harming a huge oak tree.
The terrace was built adjoining a new pool house at Porthkerry House, in Porthkerry Country Park near Barry, without planning permission.
Permission was initially refused due to how the terrace would likely kill a holm oak tree it was designed around. But the terrace was built anyway.
Now Vale of Glamorgan council’s planning department has been given the green light to take enforcement action, in order to protect the tree and prevent it from dying.
The council’s planning committee voted on Wednesday, March 30, for officers to take enforcement action, forcing the owners to remove the terrace. Council bosses told the committee that the owners wanted to make minor adjustments, and had argued that removing the terrace might not reverse any damage already done.
Ian Robinson, operational manager for planning and building control, said: “They’re effectively saying there will have been some damage to the tree already so there’s no point in taking the terrace away, because the tree has already been damaged with the terrace and the foundations around it, and that’s unlikely to be reversed.
“Our opinion is that if there’s a chance of preventing further decline or decay then the most appropriate thing to do would be to take away the work that’s causing the harm and give the tree the best chance. Substantial removal of the terrace is what’s needed to prevent further decline and to protect the tree.”
The planning committee voted unanimously to grant enforcement action, meaning the property owners could soon be forced to remove the terrace. Councillors on the committee said it was vital to protect trees like this holm oak. The owners didn’t attend the committee meeting.
Councillor Neil Thomas said: “Ancient woodland and veteran trees provide significant habitat and support for vast numbers of flora and fauna, and should not be treated like this, so cavalierly. The defence that the applicant is putting is that the tree’s probably terminally affected and we should let it go. But it’s indefensible, developers shouldn’t be able to materially benefit from ignoring orders or planning rules.”
Cllr Andrew Parker said: “Quite clearly when you look at the photographs, the amount of rainwater that can actually get through to the roots, by virtue of the fact it’s all been covered, undoubtedly is doing considerable harm now. The faster we remove it the better, because the leaves are just about to come out and it needs all the moisture it can get.”
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