PLANNING officers have been advised to consider taking a ‘more robust’ approach after proposals to chop down 12 trees ahead of a car park extension were approved.

Highways England’s planning application to remove landscape buffers in and around the Birchwood Boulevard site boundaries to facilitate the extension and reconfiguration of the car park came before the development management committee on Wednesday.

It also included the relocation of electric vehicle charging points and lighting columns.

However, the application proposed to remove 10 trees from the boundary of the council-owned site and two trees from within the car parking area.

Cllr Joan Grime raised concerns over the removal of the trees, which planning officers labelled as ‘low quality’.

She said: “I noticed it says our relevant policies all refer to the amenity of trees and bushes for residents and this doesn’t apply to this case because, of course, it is on a business park.

“But I think it is a real admission from our policies that the amenity abuse on a business park doesn’t count at all.

“People spend a lot of time at work. I think it is real shame that trees should be lost.”

Cllr Judith Wheeler also put her views forward on the matter.

She said: “They may be trees of poor value but car parks aren’t the most beautiful of places and I think all we can do to green and landscape them should be welcome.

“There is no provision for replacing or improving vegetation on the car park and I think that is a mistake.”

Councillors were told it would be difficult to deliver tree replacements on the site due to the limited space.

However, the authority’s planning team confirmed landscape character is covered in a policy – and is something members can discuss if they are ‘particularly concerned’.

But it added that the officers’ opinion is that parking is a ‘real issue’ on the site.

Cllr Tony McCarthy said: “I think it is something we would like to note for future development.

“We should look into and, perhaps, be a bit more robust on.”

The committee approved the application subject to conditions, as recommended.