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Fight to Save Oak Trees at the New Guilden Village Student Development

Published on: 25 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 27 Sep, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

The article has been amended (September 27) to clarify that McAleer & Rushe is the contractor, not the developer as previously stated. Future Generation is the developer of Guilden Village.

Two “unstable” oak trees have been cordoned off for safety whilst experts assess whether they can be saved. They were allegedly damaged during construction of the newly opened, luxury student accommodation, Guilden Village, near to Stoke Park.

Both GBC and the contractor, McAleer & Rushe, have said they were committed to saving the trees.

The two oak trees next to the luxury student accommodation, Guilden Village, are protected by Tree Preservation Orders.

GBC said their tree specialists were investigating damage to the 20-metre high, mature trees, which are subject to Tree Protection Orders (TPOs).

The impressive oaks are around three metres to five metres from the new five-storey high building.

The oak trees are close to the Guilden Village building and shade many of the rooms.

GBC leader Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), responding to an appeal by local resident, Juliet McDonnell, said: “We are very concerned about the trees and we will be doing everything we can to save them. If anyone’s actions are shown to have caused damage, we will take appropriate action.”

Unstable Trees sign at the Guilden Village.

Juliet McDonnell said: “I fear that the beautiful oak trees will now have to be felled. I am furious about this as when we went to look around the development, the sales team made a big deal about wanting to be part of the community.

“As far as I am concerned they have fallen at the first hurdle – an elite development with total disregard for the local environment.”

The Guilden Village, developed by Future Generation and with prices ranging between £750 and £1,500 per month for an en-suite to a premium studio, opened recently to students. There have been reports of complaints that the trees are shading the rooms and blocking the view to Stoke Park.

James Steel (Lib Dem, Westborough), lead for the environment, said: “We are investigating two trees near the Stoke Park skatepark. We have put up fences around the trees to protect our residents visiting the park.

“The two trees both have TPOs which makes it illegal to work on them without our permission.

“We are investigating the structural condition of the trees and whether the TPOs have been breached.”

A spokesperson for McAleer & Rushe said: “The design of the development sought to retain and embrace the presence of the trees with the park for the many benefits they provide.

“We engaged with an arboriculturist to advise us on construction to ensure we minimise the impact on the trees and we continue to work closely with them.

“We believe the trees can be retained and we are fully committed to securing them.”

The Guilden Village facility managers has been asked to comment.

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test 7 Responses to Fight to Save Oak Trees at the New Guilden Village Student Development

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    September 25, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Why were they allowed to dig foundations that close? It’s not three metres.

  2. John Ferns Reply

    September 25, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    It is difficult to comprehend why the construction was ever allowed, given the proximity to the oak trees. I sympathize with the students who are affected.

    Readers should consult the relevant council planning documents, so residents can understand the culpability of the parties concerned.

  3. Daniel Hill Reply

    September 25, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    I agree with Jim Allen why wasn’t this raised at the pre-planning stage. You can’t build foundations that close to mature trees. If I was Cllr James Steel I would get out a scale ruler and I would check the building is the same as the approved plans.

  4. Mike Stratful Reply

    September 27, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    I don’t understand how development so close to the trees was permitted by GBC, nor why it has taken until now to discover that they are unstable. The developers maximised the building and their profit, as they do. The council have failed in their responsibility to protect the trees and the wildlife they support.

  5. Mike Stratful Reply

    September 28, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Sad and suspicious. Why has it taken until now to identify the problem?

    There’s more too this than just the fate of three significant trees.

  6. Laura Wilder Reply

    September 28, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Oak trees are very important wildlife habitats, they are not an inconvenience and should be protected.

  7. Jean Lewis Reply

    October 8, 2021 at 11:46 pm

    Once again GBC have failed to make the appropriate checks on this development.

    It’s a disgrace. GBC [and] the developer should be held to account and made to pay.

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