Furious residents stop tree felling at Christchurch beauty spot

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st catherine's hill
Land at St Catherine’s Hill was sold at auction last year

AN ANGRY band of residents forced a tree surgeon felling trees on an estate near St Catherine’s Hill in Christchurch to abandon his work.

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Things became so heated police were called to the scene on the corner of Hillside Drive and Foreland Close. People living in the area had been horrified when they saw the arboriculturist operating on the land.

Resident Denise Phillips told the A&T: “Where he was felling the trees is in a thicket which is teeming with wildlife.

“I’ve seen a deer there before. It is bird nesting season and people were worried. He stopped his work there but a few days later came back and started again on the other side of the road.

“A large crowd gathered then and there was a big hoo-ha, and the police were called.”

BCP Council said it had been in the process of issuing a tree preservation order (TPO) to cover the trees. But at the time there was no TPO in force so the landowner was not required to ask permission to cut them down.

The TPO was served on 5th May, a few days after tree felling began. The trees are understood to be on plots of land sold at auction last year. At least 10 trees near the beauty spot now have a copy of a TPO order pinned on them.

Mrs Phillips said: “There are rumours that plans to build several bungalows on each [plot] are being drawn up. Everyone is worried about over-development as they are small-size plots.”

A TPO notice at St Catherine’s Hill

Cllr Margaret Phipps, member for the Commons ward, said residents were “very upset” about the tree felling.

She said: “I had so many emails from people alerting me to what was going on. A TPO was already in the process of being actioned by BCP Council, which is why they were able to act so quickly.

“I have to congratulate them for their exceptional response at this difficult time, they got out there very quickly and dealt with it. Sadly, a lot of trees had already been felled.”

The felling took place among 8.5 acres of freehold land which was auctioned off in December last year. No planning application has been submitted.

A spokesperson for BCP Council said: “Following numerous calls from residents and reports from the local ward councillor we were made aware of tree felling on land adjacent to Foreland Close at St Catherine’s Hill.

“Officers were quick to investigate and, alongside Dorset Police, attended the site where the tree felling had taken place.

“Considering the location, close to the St Catherine’s natural conservation area and site of special scientific interest, we took immediate action to serve TPOs on the remaining trees and stop further felling from taking place.”

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