WATCH: Tree felling outside County Hall continues
Works to fell further trees outside County Hall in Morpeth are taking place this morning.
Residents complained when sets of trees in two courtyards were cut down on the weekend of January 21 and 22.
Northumberland County Council said they had become ‘large and overgrown’, blocking a lot of natural light into the offices as a result.
Further felling happened last midweek outside the front of the buildings and it has now resumed again at Queen Elizabeth Way.
These trees are at the proposed location for the relocated Morpeth First School.
But a resident who saw what was going on, Bruce Gibson, has temporarily halted the works as he spoke to the team carrying them out and said he would not move from the site until he had spoken to a key county council executive or leader of the authority, Grant Davey.
He said: “The council is acting prematurely as planning permission has yet to be granted. I’m incensed that the felling of trees is taking place now along this beautiful avenue.
“This is wrong and against the normal process for how things should be done.”
Morpeth town councillor, Joan Tebbutt, said: “Months ago, I persuaded the town council’s planning and transport committee to request that the county council put Tree Protection Orders on all the trees on the County Hall site, including the former Fire Service site.
“We have only received delaying responses and the county council’s recent actions demonstrate that it is treating this town with total disdain.
“Its ‘calculated risk’ that the three planning applications (the other two are for housing and a commercial development on the former fire station and Merley Croft sites) will be approved is arrogant in the extreme and totally irresponsible.”
A county council spokesman said: “A small area of trees and bushes outside County Hall is being cleared ahead of a planning decision for the new £5.7million Morpeth First School on the site.
“By doing some preparatory work now it would allow the scheme to progress more quickly if the proposals are given the green light, by removing those trees within the footprint of the proposed school buildings before birds come to nest in the spring.
“Subject to planning permission, the new school is expected to open its doors in late 2018 and the landscaping scheme for the school seeks to retain as many of the existing trees as possible.
“This includes keeping most of the existing tree lined-avenue to create an attractive pedestrian route to the new school entrance.”