'Shoddy' landscape at St Albans leisure centre is slated

PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 August 2015

Bare looking flower beds in Westminster Lodge car park

Bare looking flower beds in Westminster Lodge car park

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Landscaping at Westminster Lodge in St Albans has been criticised for being "patchy and shoddy" in places by a district councillor.

Bare looking flower beds in Westminster Lodge car parkBare looking flower beds in Westminster Lodge car park

At a recent committee meeting, Cllr Anthony Rowlands (Lib Dem) said, “some beds are either heaps of mud or contain isolated forlorn plants.

“A forward landscaping plan which I was sent in November 2014 has only been partially implemented.”

Cllr Rowlands asked why the council’s Tory administration had “failed to ensure that the planned improvements have taken place”, as the grounds maintenance contractor’s performance had proved disappointing.

Portfolio holder for sports and leisure, Cllr Annie Brewster, said that John O’Conner, which took over the maintenance of the leisure centre in autumn last year, had re-seeded grassed areas and put new plants in shrub beds, but there had been problems.

She admitted that when council officers inspected the landscaped areas, “some of the planting in the shrub and flower beds appeared to be missing or dead.

“However there was evidence that the herbaceous plants were starting to grow.”

She explained: “The main problem was that the new plants had been trampled by people crossing the shrub beds on foot and in vehicles.

“This is unfortunately a common problem where shrub beds adjoin parking areas.

“Re-planting is unlikely to be effective since the plants do not have the time to become established before they are damaged.”

Cllr Brewster said that the council was trialling the planting of a central line of tall plants in the beds between car parking spaces where plants were being trampled by people accessing vehicles.

She went on: “These plants were planted in early June and all have survived to date. An alternative solution would be to consider hard landscaping in the areas that are vulnerable to foot and vehicular traffic. If our trial is successful however, this option will not be necessary.”

Cllr Brewster said that in response to a further complaint from another councillor, officers had served a rectification notice upon John O’Conner after another inspection found shrub beds had not been properly maintained, particularly the weeding, and that the grass cutting “was not up to the contract standard”.

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