An urgent review has been launched into how a section of the Madeira Drive green wall was excessively cut back last month.
The section running up Duke’s Mound was given an extremely hard prune, with nothing but small stumps and the roots left.
Brighton and Hove City Council initially said it was intending to retrain growth closer to the wall after poor visibility was highlighted during preparations for transport changes along the road, including a new cycle lane.
But following an outcry, councillors have requested a review into how it happened, what lessons need to be learnt, and what work is being done to re-establish the greenery.
It has also apologised to Brighton and Hove Building Green, with whom it has worked closely with for several years to maintain the wall, for not consulting them about the work.
In a statement, the council said: “We’d like to apologise to our residents for the way we went about cutting back the stretch of Green Wall at the bottom of Duke’s Mound in March.
“It should not have been cut down in this way. We are very sorry about this, and an investigation is underway to find out how this happened.
“As part of the Black Rock regeneration project a road safety audit was carried out. This found that the greenery limited visibility and may result in collisions between vehicles and pedestrians.
“The cutting back of the greenery was not raised with councillors. It was arranged by council staff as an operational requirement, stemming from the road safety audit.
“Councillors have requested an urgent review into how the excessive cut-back happened, what lessons need to be learnt from it, and what work is being done to re-establish the greenery. Officers will report back to councillors on this as soon as possible.
“We recognise that we should have engaged with Brighton and Hove Building Green when it became clear that this vegetation needed to be cut back.
“We have spoken to them to apologise and ensure further engagement in future, and we are grateful for their involvement.
“We would emphasise that although there are plans to build a cycle lane here, the recommendations of the road safety audit were made in relation to pedestrian safety with regard to traffic in general and nothing to do with the cycle lane in particular.”
The new road layout at Duke’s Mound includes traffic lights at the top and bottom, and a cycle lane running up half the slope as far as a new “informal” pedestrian crossing.
The Black Rock regeneration was first announced publicly in December 2019, and plans were published on the planning portal in February 2020, when Labour was in control of the council.
They were unanimously approved by the council’s planning committee in June last year.
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