RESIDENTS living around the ancient woodland behind the Kymin have expressed their dismay at a proposed development of the land.

A development of a single house on land adjacent to Homeside House, Bradford Place, Penarth has been put forward. It would require the removal of seven of the 30 ancient trees in the Conservation Area.

Many of the trees had been assessed in September 2018 as deserving of a Tree Protection Order, which would prevent them from being cut down, though the Vale council has said they are in the process of securing the protection orders.

Residents say one – Ash Tree 1, crucial to development – has already been removed. John Lean, a resident of Kymin Terrace, said: “Around a week ago, the first ash tree was sawn down. It was painted as a routine tidying up of their grounds, that it was sick, and was carried out not by the architects who made the main application, but by the warden. We do not believe there was anything wrong with that tree.

“An application was made under Section 211 of the Planning Acts for the removal of Ash Tree 1, another tree not in the wood but next to the house, and the removal of a fallen tree. No notice was given to local residents; the Vale council did not inspect the site before permission was given, and the first we knew of it was when we heard the chainsaws.”

Ash Tree 1 would have to be removed for any development to take place, to allow construction traffic to pass.

David Burnett, a resident, said: “This creates a dangerous precedent for further development here.

“When the construction of Homeside House was permitted on appeal in 1985, the inspector at the time made it clear that it should not impinge on the woodland. The woodland was described as ‘inviolate’ – it’s at least 400 years old. What was true then is true now.” Other residents had further complaints about the proposed development, and the methodology used to carry out inspections.

The large footprint of the dwelling occupies over half the site. The access road would also have to be able to take construction traffic, which residents fear would further damage the site and could limit parking.

One resident described a bat survey as ‘completely inadequate’, as the resident said the survey carried out on behalf of the applicant noted observation was made on two occasions only.

William and Karen Stonehouse said: “The development would involve the destruction of a valuable natural habitat without any benefit to the community whatsoever.

“Penarth is not short of expensive properties. It is affordable housing that is desperately needed to prevent the continuing drain of its young people who can no longer afford to buy any property here.

“This proposal does nothing to address that.”

Joanna Masters said: “I am very concerned about the proposed plan to fell the wood.

“I thought the world was becoming more environmentally aware, particularly regarding the value of trees, but it seems the Vale council is, in its own way, as irresponsible as Brazil’s Bolsonaro.”

A spokesman for the Vale council said: “This planning application has yet to be determined and will be considered in exactly the same way as any other, with the views of all interested parties taken into account.

“That will involve reviewing all letters of representation and consultation responses on the matter. I

“It has been resubmitted after a previous one for a similar development was withdrawn as it failed to provide full details of the impact on nearby trees.

“We are in the process of arranging Tree Preservation Orders for trees there that meet the criteria for that protection.

“The council did approve an application to fell an ash tree from Homeside House as, after inspection by an officer, it was deemed to have a fungal bracket, which can structurally weaken trees to the point of breakage. That being the case, it was decided a TPO was not appropriate.”

The freehold for the woodland was purchased by Proxima GR Properties in 1985 from McCarthy & Stone, who had built an unsheltered accommodation around the site.

The Penarth Times has attempted to reach Proxima GR Properties for a comment.