Our Cooperative Executive has set out the next steps in the independent Inquiry in to the management of Sheffield's street trees dispute.
Sheffield kicks off development of new street tree strategy
A cabinet report which focuses on the development of a Street Tree Strategy, as well as the new approach to managing the city’s street trees, will be discussed next week.
Cabinet are being asked to endorse plans to create a new Street Tree Strategy for the city, in line with the aspirations set out in the overarching Trees and Woodlands Strategy, following mediated talks between the council, Amey and representatives of Sheffield Tree Action Group.
As outlined in the Joint Position Statement published in December 2018, the new strategy will explore a number of issues such as the long-term aims for street tree numbers, management and maintenance of the tree stock, and how communities can become more involved in the future.
In recent months, a number of constructive discussions have been held between the council, Amey and representatives of STAG to agree an approach for the development of the strategy. As a result of these discussions, Liz Ballard, Chief Executive of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, has been appointed to the role of independent chair of a group which will oversee the development of the strategy.
Comprising of representatives from Sheffield City Council, Amey and STAG, as well as other stakeholders, such as the Woodland Trust, the group will also draw on expertise from specialists, where required.
Cabinet will be asked to note the establishment of the group and to agree to receive a first draft of the strategy for consideration in January 2020.
The report also seeks Cabinet endorsement for the continuation of the approach adopted by Sheffield City Council and Amey for the ongoing assessment of street trees.
Since the start of the year, the council’s highways contractor, Amey, has adopted a new approach to managing Sheffield’s street tree stock which will result in more trees being retained over the longer term and stagger the replacement of others to reduce the impact on individual streets.
Following this joint assessment and investigation process, 191 of the 309 street trees remaining from the core investment period of the Streets Ahead programme will now be retained indefinitely. A further 26 require bespoke solutions with 91 trees awaiting investigation.
Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change at Sheffield City Council, Cllr Lewis Dagnall said:
“In recent months the Council has been working closely with both Amey and representatives of STAG to enable work on the Street Tree Strategy to begin. Simultaneously, significant activity has been underway across the city to assess individual trees.
“As part of this process, a specialist team, made up of tree and highway specialists from Amey, has been exploring possible solutions to retain trees, considering all viable options and often, carrying out suitable remedial works in the same day.
“The availability of alternative solutions funded by Amey, combined with adjustments to the council’s specification around some trees, has allowed us to make significant and positive progress, with the support of all parties.
“I have every confidence that the new group will navigate through what may, at times, be complex matters and arrive at a suitable, and satisfactory, resolution so that we can continue taking positive steps forward.
“Whilst it’s recognised that there are still challenges to overcome, we hope that by continuing to work with stakeholders and affected residents in an open and structured way, we will agree on a long-term solution for the benefit of everyone in the city.”
If approved, the new approach will be fully aligned to the Council’s priorities, ensuring that the city has a well-managed and maintained street tree stock to be enjoyed by communities and residents both now and in the future, whilst also acknowledging the important ecological and environmental benefits that this brings.
It will also enable Amey to continue delivering the Streets Ahead programme and to ensure that the benefits of this programme, in the form of upgraded and well maintained highways, are realised.
The outcome of the assessments and associated decisions for each tree will be published on the council’s website at: www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/roads-pavements/managing-street-trees.
The cabinet report is available to view at https://bit.ly/32ejx5j
Other stories you might like
Council apologises for street tree complaint handling
Apology issued over handling of street tree complaint
New tree in Carter Knowle park kicks off two-year community planting project
With support from the Woodland Trust, Sheffield has expended its community forestry team and will deliver community tree planting activities across the city over the next two years.