NO attempt will be made to save Shirley Park’s ring of oaks from the axe, it was decided last week.
The trees - which are centuries old - have been under threat for years, with part of the park required for the redevelopment of the town centre.
Last year, planning permission was finally granted for the Parkgate scheme, with one of the conditions that the trees would be relocated elsewhere.
But Shirley Advance has now received Solihull Council’s permission to hew down the oaks, after arguing they wouldn’t survive the move. The planning committee voted by a majority to allow the amendment.
Some of Parkgate’s most vociferous critics have slammed the decision, accusing the developers of reneging on what was originally promised.
Councillor Howard Allen (Green, Shirley West) said that removing the trees amounted to “desecration of the environment”.
“The developer has made a lot of fuss about the £500,000 improvements they will make to the park as part of the scheme. But when it comes down to it they don’t want to meet the costs of moving these trees, which will be right in the middle of the development. This is a unique feature, it cannot be recreated, and what we’ll get in its place will be just saplings that a lot of residents won’t see the benefit of in their lifetime.”
Solihull MP Lorely Burt was also upset by last Wednesday’s decision, having campaigned for several years to save the trees from destruction. “This is a betrayal of the people of Shirley,” she said. “The Conservative councillors who have supported this are vandals.”
In reply, Shirley Advance’s Robert Birch said that an expert report had found the oaks would not survive relocation.
“This is the advice of our experts and it is supported by the council’s own planning officers and landscape architects,” he said. We intend to secure the area concerned and to complete this enabling work over the next couple of weeks.
Work on Parkgate will start in earnest in May, though removal of trees and undergrowth is likely to be slightly ahead of this.