Fringe Box



Sombre Mood As Doomed Stoke Park Oaks Are Felled

Published on: 15 Oct, 2021
Updated on: 15 Oct, 2021

The oak trees in Stoke Park near the new Guilden Village being cut down.

By Hugh Coakley

There was a sombre mood near the two fallen oak trees today (Friday, October 15) in Stoke Park.

People passing stopped to look at the remains of the once 20m high, mature oaks, cut down yesterday (Thursday, October 14). Some people were silent, others wanted to be speak about what had been lost.

“Its a terrible shame. I hope they don’t get away with it,” said one woman walking her dog. Another said: “It’s not just the trees but the habitat it provides. How dare we criticise other countries when we are doing this.”

Resident Juliet McDonnell who had initially emailed The Guildford Dragon NEWS with the plight of the oaks, said: “I just feel very, very sad these beautiful mature trees had to make way for a commercial development. I’m angry as well but powerless to stop it.”

One of the two damaged oaks near the Guilden Village student complex felled on October 14. The photo shows the severed roots.

The trees were allegedly damaged during construction of the newly opened, “luxury” Guilden Village student accommodation. See Doomed Stoke Park Oaks Felling As Early As Monday – ‘Criminal Investigation’ Ongoing.

Guildford Borough Council had cordoned off the stricken trees over three weeks ago and issued a statement saying the “majority of structural roots on the building side of the trees have sadly been severed” and the trees were “unstable”.

Options to save the trees had been considered by the council including pollarding. There was said to be only a 10% to 15% chance of the trees surviving.

The leader of Guildford Borough Council, Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch) said they would use some of the wood for repairs in the playground near Millmead and possibly for a sculpture.

The two oaks cut down outside the new Guilden Village student accommodation complex.

The Guilden Village developer, Future Generation, and the contractor, McAleer & Rushe had issued statements yesterday saying they believed the trees could be saved.

The managing director of McAleer & Rushe, Martin Magee, said retention of the trees “in combination with some new mature tree planting would provide the best outcome for the trees and the local community.”

The two oak trees next to the luxury student accommodation, Guilden Village, were protected by tree preservation orders.

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Responses to Sombre Mood As Doomed Stoke Park Oaks Are Felled

  1. Alastair Atkinson Reply

    October 16, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    If retaining the existing trees and then planting additional trees would have been best for the community, then why or how did the trees get damaged in the first place?

    The planning documents were really clear; both these trees were not to be removed and the construction processes to be used should have protected them.

    Not sure how this happened or what were the causes; nobody cared, incompetence or something else?

    No good answers really to a terrible situation but the community needs to know what happened, what is going to happen next and what the council is going to do to prevent this from happening elsewhere.

    Alastair Atkinson is chair of the Guildford Environmental Forum

  2. Mike Stratful Reply

    October 16, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    Ironic that the developer calls themselves Future Generation! The stumps should be left as a memorial to the folly, with a suitable message.

  3. John Markwell Reply

    October 17, 2021 at 7:59 am

    It is clear that there have been serious failings here.

    Whatever happened during construction, new buildings were set far too close to these trees, and their loss was inevitable. Good design of buffers to existing high value trees should consider the spread of a canopy and the setting of important trees, not just the minimum root protection zone.

    The development in its current form should never have been given permission, and whilst I hope that there are penalties resulting from this debacle, much of the blame must rest with the planning inspectorate for approving this travesty.

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    October 17, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    I sincerely hope that those responsible are fined the maximum amount possible for the damage to each protected tree, plus being required to pay any costs that the council have incurred in felling the trees, making the area safe and planting any replacements.

    One also hopes that should the same people seek to build anything else in the borough, GBC’s planning and building inspectors will be watching them very closely indeed!

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