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City centre tree planting programme starts

Preparation work for one of Swansea city centre's biggest ever tree-planting operations begins next week (week commencing April 30).

Kingsway proposed layout (Potter's Wheel roundabout view)

The 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.

They will be planted with devices that stop their roots causing damage to footways, avoiding trip hazards.

By the end of next year, The Kingsway will be a people-friendly urban park with a two-lane road running east and west.

Monday (Apr 30) is due to see the start of four weeks of preparatory work on the tree programme along six streets close to The Kingsway. This will help accommodate the new trees and green landscaping as part of the Swansea Council plan to make The Kingsway a green artery.  

The preparatory work will include the removal of some existing trees which are unhealthy or which pose potential root damage to pavements, ground infrastructure and buildings. Necessary ecological surveys have been undertaken including a watching brief on nesting birds. Contractors will not remove trees with active nests - and care will be taken before each is felled to double check the position

The felling of trees will also reduce the potential for pedestrian trips and falls due to surface damage in footways.

Mature trees which are healthy and present no concerns about damage to buildings, footways and other infrastructure will be kept.

Mark Thomas, Swansea Council's cabinet member for environment services, said: "It's really positive to see our tree planting programme moving forward.

"The uncontrolled root growth of some existing trees is continuing to damage footways so it's right that we remove them as an early step. At the same time it makes sense that we check all the trees and remove those which are unhealthy.

"Our specially designed tree pits, with good quality soils, have root containment systems which mean that our new trees will - in due course - mature without damaging pavements or creating trip hazards for pedestrians. They will help create the high quality green artery through the city centre that we aspire to."

The new trees will be installed over the next two years between November and February, the best time for planting. After planting, foliage will emerge in spring and the will trees to mature in future years. Before planting they will be fully nurtured and developed as far as possible.

The Kingsway's large areas of grass will be immediately visible upon laying next year.

Most of the trees being removed over the coming four weeks - around 50 in total in Mansel Street, De-La Beche Street, Grove Place, Alexandra Road, Orchard Street and Belle Vue Way - are semi-mature London plane trees planted around 30 years ago, with no containment pits.

For safety reasons the removal work will mean the temporary closure of some single lanes of road and footpath diversions. Tree cutting will create noise and the council appreciates the understanding of local residents and business at these times. Contractors have been asked to do all they can to minimise inconvenience.

Some of the timber from the felled trees will be donated to social enterprises.

Work began this month to transform The Kingsway into a "digital district" and a green artery for the city. The Kingsway will have new public areas, landscaped parkland, cycle tracks and a two-way single lane vehicle route along with the creation of wider pedestrian walkways.

The transformation forms part of wider objectives to regenerate the whole of the city centre, making it a greener place for residents and workers.

The new trees will add to the high number of trees planted throughout the city centre in recent years, most visible in the Boulevard and West Way.

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: "We want to transform the city centre into a vibrant and bustling centre for business and leisure. The investment we are making is to ensure the new Kingsway is of a high quality to match the new city centre we are building.

"We need to create the right environment to attract investment by redeveloping the Kingsway area ahead of creation of the planned digital district which will bring new investment and jobs as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal."

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

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