The residential property called Headingley on Route du Fort is publicly owned by freehold and is used by the Health and Social Services Department. In the past few days or weeks, large trees (including at least one pear tree) and mature hedges located in the property's lush back garden were needlessly hacked down and destroyed, with other greenery cut back to within a few feet of the ground. It appears that only one large tree still remains untouched.
This secluded and quiet garden has always been extremely popular with wild birds, particularly sparrows, who inhabit its dense trees and hedges throughout the day and fly down to hunt insects in the grass and areas of bare soil. They regularly fly back and forth to the garden from their nesting / roosting sites on the other side of Cleveland Road. It is also a useful crossing / stopping-off point for birds travelling back from destinations to the west of the garden, such as Hastings Lane and Roseville Street.
The needless vandalism carried out in the garden this month will probably have a detrimental effect on bird life in the immediate area for years to come. A Google Street Map image of the garden taken in September 2010 from Cleveland Road (link included) shows the extent and height of these trees a decade ago, a situation which prevailed until this month. In addition, one healthy plant situated prominently in the front garden which also appears on the 2010 Google Street Map images was dug up and completely ripped out at the same time, presumably to make the front garden look tidier from the road.
Therefore please supply the following:
All and any correspondence that took place between the property owner, the gardening company which undertook the destruction, any prior consultation with Headingley residents and any relevant third parties who may have provided advice (eg the Natural Environment Team at the Department of the Environment) before the decision was taken to significantly alter the nature of the back garden at Headingley. If no such prior correspondence took place, how was this act of environmental vandalism allowed to happen unchallenged?
Google Street Maps 2010 Link
Health and Community staff removed two Pear trees from the back garden of Headingley after having been verbally informed by the gardening contractor that one had fallen down in the wind and the other was rotten. After further inspection, it was noted that both Pear trees were rotten and that one of them was also causing structural damage to the building’s flat roof.
Verbal communication with one Headingley resident was undertaken prior to the commencement of the work.
No third-party advice was sought as all expertise and knowledge are available within the department.
A high level of gardening maintenance is routinely carried out on all Health and Community Service properties. This is generally carried out by Health and Community Service gardening staff, with the occasional contract.
It has not been possible to locate any information in departmental files going back to 2010 with regards to removal of a tree in the front garden.
A review of the planting within the Headingley garden will be undertaken with a view to potentially replacing the trees that have been removed.
It is noted that over the last six months the Health and Community Services department has planted 350 trees across sites under its control. Staff are also working with the Pollination Project, with wild flower seeds also having been planted.