Regular visitors to Penarth’s Railway Hotel – the pub in the heart of Penarth’s architecturally sensitive Conservation Area – may find something appears to have gone missing from the beer-garden of the well-known watering place
Two tall trees have been almost entirely removed – completely changing the appearance of the outside of the premises.
The Stonegate pub company had made a planning application to carry out the felling of a Lawson Cypress and Sycamore adjacent to the entrance of the pub .
The Vale of Glamorgan Council had given permission for the work – but had applied conditions saying that ” Bats must not be disturbed or destroyed during tree work” and that consideration should be given to the planting of suitable replacement trees – given “the contribution trees make to the Conservation Area and their importance to wildlife”.
Even though the trees were in the Penarth Conservation area, the felling application did not come before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee and seems to have been decided just by a Vale of Glamorgan planning officer acting alone – who may not have been familiar with the location or aware of the impact that the loss of these two trees has on the streetscape of the Conservation Area.
A pair of black plastic spotlights and a string of decorative bulbs are now the only appendages to the trunks of the two former trees.
It so happens that proposed changes to the Railway Hotel’s exterior had come up before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee less than 24 hours earlier.
The owners the Stonegate Pub Company applied for planning permission to demolish and re-build part of the original Victorian stone wall which surrounds the pub garden.
When the application for the wall re-build came before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee this week its chairman, Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell), said the wall was “bellying out” and appeared to be unstable.
Councillors heard that the existing stone would be salvaged and re-used to build the new wall on a “like-for-like” basis.
The application mentioned that “a number of mature trees are growing around the edge of the area” and that two of them were causing the wall to buckle, crack and “lean outwards”.
The entire site is within the Penarth Conservation Area and the pub itself is listed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council as a “County Treasure”.
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) was concerned about the most prominent tree in the garden of the Railway Pub – which he described as “iconic” .
He said there should be a Tree Preservation Order placed on this tree and, if necessary, he would get the Vale of Glamorgan Council to put a TPO on it immediately.”We cannot allow it to be destroyed” he said – and contractors would “just have to work around it” .It would be a “bad idea to try to destroy this valuable tree” – he said.
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said that so long as the pub garden wall was re-built “exactly as it is now” he had no objection to the re-build. Cllr Ernest said there used to be railings along the wall which he suspected had been taken out for use as scrap-iron during WW2 and converted into “bullets or tanks or something”. The area comprising the Railway Hotel, the garden, the wall and the trees all formed “a core part of central Penarth”. Cllr Ernest also urged that the original wall it should be photographed before work commenced to ensure that its replacement was identical.
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said the council could require that “all steps necessary” to preserve the tree during the re-building of the wall must be taken “as a condition of our support for the application”.
Cllr Neil Thomas said he would support Cllr Wilson’s call for a Tree Preservation Order to be placed on the “iconic tree”.
The “iconic tree” [ thought to be the one in the corner of the garden nearest the traffic lights] is still intact
By by the time the Lawson Cypress and the Sycamore had both received the attentions of the tree surgeons – the roof of the John Coates Carter-designed Railway Hotel building was left under under a layer of fine sawdust.