PLANS to axe 19 protected trees close to a contentious development site earmarked for up to 100 homes in Lymington have infuriated conservation groups and neighbours.
Hayden’s Arboricultural Consultants has applied on behalf of Belco Holdings Ltd to fell the mature trees in Lower Pennington Lane, close to land known as Site 6 in New Forest District Council’s Local Plan.
It was ratified for potential development by NFDC despite complaints by the Pennington and Lymington Lanes Society and the Lymington Society who, along with neighbours, are opposed to chopping down the trees which they fear will spoil the rural character of the area.
The application by Hayden’s said 10 Monterey pine, six Monterey cypress, and an English oak, elm and horse chestnut should go.
It explained: “The tree surgery works proposed as part of the survey are recommended to mitigate any identified health and safety problems, to promote longevity in retained trees and to consider long-term landscaping implications.”
But opponents have hit out and claimed that in a survey of the trees in 2016, all but two of them were assessed as having a further life expectancy of 10-20 years.
Objectors have also resisted development of Site 6 with homes amid fears it would affect the distinctiveness of the rural lanes, as they fear significant changes would need to be made to accommodate the extra traffic so many homes would bring.
A spokesperson for Pennington and Lymington Lanes Society told the A&T it believed the application was an attempt to improve sightlines on the road in advance “by the back door”.
A statement added: “By felling trees they will make it easier for them to justify removing the earth bank which gives the lane its distinctive sunken character along this stretch.”
That would open up the options for “widening, straightening and urbanising” Lower Pennington Lane to create a new two-way vehicular access, it said, which was “exactly the kind of environmentally damaging development” it had fought all along.
Local civic group the Lymington Society “expressed alarm” at the application to fell the trees.
Deputy chair Donald Mackenzie said: “If the protected trees have to be removed, we would expect this to be done gradually, with mature trees planted in their place, to maintain the feel and character of these trees and the raised bank on which they now sit.”
Neighbours were also opposed, including resident Caroline Forest. She questioned why Hayden’s was recommending a “mass culling” and thought the scale of the felling “unjustified and excessive”.
Hayden’s did not respond to the A&T’s request for comment.
* This story has been amended from a previous version which listed 17 trees under threat