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Council ‘No Delay’ To Stoke Park Oaks Removal: Developer Says ‘Trees Can Be Saved’

Published on: 13 Oct, 2021
Updated on: 13 Oct, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

The two oak trees in Stoke Park, allegedly damaged during the construction of the newly opened Guilden Village, were still in place today (Wednesday, October 13).

Both tree’s structural roots on the building side had been “sadly severed” and the trees were “unstable”, said Guildford Borough Council. Branches of the larger of the two oaks had been cut back on one side accommodating the new student building.

The branches of the oak tree appear to have been cut on one side accommodating the new building.

The council, who said the trees were to be cut down “in the week beginning October 11”, had indicated to The Guildford Dragon NEWS the trees would be removed on Monday. The council confirmed today there was no delay to the operation to remove them, saying: “We will be removing the trees this week to ensure public safety.”

But both the developer of Guilden Village, Future Generation, and the building contractor, McAleer & Rushe, have maintained they can be saved.

Guilden Village bordering Stoke Park. The damaged oaks are to the right of the building are said by Guildford Borough Council to be “unstable”.

Donna Collinson, who chairs the Stoke-next-Guildford Residents’ Association, said: “Whilst the focus is on these two trees, it’s important to remember that in the last 10 years the area has lost up to 50 established trees which were all contributing to our air quality and biodiversity and none of them were replaced.

“This cannot be allowed to continue given Guildford’s terrible air pollution record.”

See Doomed Stoke Park Oaks Felling As Early As Monday – ‘Criminal Investigation’ Ongoing

The managing director of McAleer & Rushe, Martin Magee, appeared to be offering new mature trees as well as retaining the stricken oaks.

He said: “We are very disappointed to learn that GBC have decided to remove the trees. It remains our view, and that of Keen Consultants our expert arboriculturists, that the trees could safely be retained and pruned in an appropriate fashion.

“We have reached out to GBC to seek further discussion on the retention of the trees. Our view is that this approach in combination with some new mature tree planting would provide the best outcome for the trees and the local community.”

Photo showing the severed roots of one of the oak trees adjacent to the newly opened Guilden Village student accommodation.

A Guildford Dragon NEWS reporter spoke at the Guilden Village site to Jim Cook, head of operations for Future Generation sites. After reading the McAleer & Rushe statement, he said he could not commit to the additional trees being planted if the trees were saved.

He said: “We were as upset as anyone when we heard the trees were damaged. We employed McAleer and Rushe to carry out the work. We want the trees to stay.”

The chairman of Future Generation, Andrew Southern, said: “Experts appointed by our contractor believe removal of these trees is unnecessary. There are approximately 15 trees with tree preservation orders around the site and we understand great effort has been made to protect them while construction work has taken place.

“It’s not clear to us why GBC has decided that the two trees in question should be removed. We’re keen to see that the local community has the chance to scrutinise that decision, and for consultation to continue to take place between McAleer & Rushe and GBC, while the window to reverse it remains open. These trees can and should be saved.”

Photo showing the severed roots of one of the oak trees adjacent to the newly opened Guilden Village student accommodation.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has requested a copy of the advise from Keen Consultants to McAleer & Rushe. We had not received the advice at the time of publication. A spokesperson for the contractor said: “The team are engaging with the council on this, and we will revert as appropriate.”

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Responses to Council ‘No Delay’ To Stoke Park Oaks Removal: Developer Says ‘Trees Can Be Saved’

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    October 14, 2021 at 10:09 am

    It is a shame that the concern for trees has not extended to the loss of over 30 mature trees along the Wey Navigation in the past 20 years due to high water speeds during times of flooding while attempting to show that active flood plain does not flood so that the Burpham court Farm SANG can be permitted.

    The planning meeting is on the 20th and the permission will give free reign to the council officers to make unchecked decisions on a site which has approximately 80% excluded from the SANG quota because of flooding wildlife and pollution (noise and leachate), making a nonsense of most planning constraints.

  2. Mike Stratful Reply

    October 25, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    I suggest that the site be left as it is, stumps, branches and all, as a memorial to this folly, that would as it slowly decays continue to be a home for wildlife. There is already an oak seedling sprouting.

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