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Anger at plan to chop down Bantock Park trees in Wolverhampton

By Peter Madeley | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Council bosses are planning to chop down seven mature trees at Bantock Park so they can double the size of the car park.

Trees could get the axe at the historic Bantock Park, considered by many to be one of Wolverhampton’s finest beauty spots

Wolverhampton Council is considering removing the decades-old trees skirting the current car park towards Merridale Road as part of plans to create 70 new parking spaces at the site.

Bosses say the scheme – which is expected to cost £175,000 and is out for public consultation – would help to cater for demand at the park, which features the Grade II listed Bantock House.

The new plot is a grass area next to the current car park which would have plastic matting laid on top of it under the plans, which could also see marquees erected for events.

The move has been slammed by Park ward councillor and Cabinet member Mike Hardacre, who has urged residents to oppose it in a consultation.

He said: “I think it is very difficult for the council to justify chopping down seven mature trees to create new parking spaces, particularly when we have recently declared a climate crisis.

“The irony is that the new parking spaces will only serve to encourage people to drive to the park.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the new spaces are needed, and as someone who uses the park daily I am yet to see an occasion when there are not spaces for people to park.

“The loss of our green open spaces will also have a negative impact on the council’s well-being and obesity strategy.

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“I would call on all residents to give this proposal an overwhelming ‘no’.”

According to a consultation into the plans, the council’s design involves laying a “grass-crete” style of surface at the back of the current car park.

“The area would be surrounded with white steel estate fencing and gates, in-keeping with the existing fencing around the house,” it says.

“The design would regrettably require the removal of several small and medium sized trees, however their loss would be fully compensated for with the fresh planting of suitable trees elsewhere on site, to ensure the park’s important natural habitat is properly safeguarded.”

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Park ward councillor Claire Darke, said: “The council is looking at possible solutions to help Bantock survive having had to deal with years of government funding cuts.

“There is a need for parking when there are events in the park. I am against cutting down trees and believe a solution can be found where people can park in the streets outside the park. I would encourage everyone to put forward their views in the consultation.”

Roger Clough, chair of the Friends of Bantock Park, said the group understood the need for more parking but were against trees being chopped down.

“The existing carpark gets overloaded on sunny days and when events are on,” he said.

“The Friends are in favour of an increase in parking spaces as long as the grass base remains and existing trees are preserved. In a recent survey of our members the lack of adequate parking was the number one concern.

“We shall be making our views known in the public consultation.”

Councillor Steve Evans, Wolverhampton Council's environment chief, said: “The grassed area at the rear of the existing car park has been used for excess parking or activities, during popular events.

“As a result of increased visitors to the park during these events, the ground is in need of repair. To avoid damage to the grounds and meet the requests from Friends of Bantock, the city council has looked to design a space which could be used for occasional additional parking and event space for event holders and visitors.

“The design would regrettably require the removal of several trees, however their loss would be fully compensated for with the fresh planting of trees elsewhere on site, to ensure the park’s natural habitat is properly safeguarded and to support our vision to become a greener city.

“We welcome the thoughts of local residents and encourage people to have their say on our proposal.”

The city council declared a climate change emergency last month, pledging to make all decisions “in line with the shift to zero carbon by 2028”.

The consultation runs until August 30.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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