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MP joins residents' fury as 74 trees felled in Paignton

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 28, 2013

Comments (18)

A Westcountry housing association chopped down 74 trees lining a Devon lane claiming they were too expensive to keep standing.

Residents in the Paignton community where the conifer trees were felled by Devon and Cornwall Housing, claiming it would also prevent anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood, fear their homes may have lost value as a result. Inhabitants of Underidge Road were upset when the 30ft evergreen backdrop was removed without warning. They claim to have suffered a loss of privacy and security and say it has left the estate with a depressing, slum-like appearance.

Heather Simpson, who has lived on the road for 15 years, said her neighbourhood now looked “horrendous and ghastly”.

She said: “When 74 conifer trees disappear everyone in the area is affected. My quality of life has been undermined as I have to sit in my lounge with the curtains drawn. That kind of devastation is not what we need in the world today.”

Devon and Cornwall Housing said it had cost £4,500 to maintain the trees over ten years, and maintained it was no longer “cost-effective” to continue pay the bills.

It eventually apologised for not having contacted residents before removing the hedge, but declined to uphold any of their other concerns.

The upset locals have lodged a formal complaint against the housing organisation supported by more than 100 signatures including MP Dr Sarah Wollaston and David Thomas, deputy mayor of Torbay.

Ms Simpson said: “Having talked to estate agents we definitely got the feeling our properties had gone down in value, but that would be difficult to prove without proper valuation. I am worried it would be harder to sell the house. It’s a derelict, lunar landscape and just looks awful. Only the naked tree stumps remain.”

The RSPB said the absence of trees may have diminished bird numbers in an area that once supported a rich variety of wildlife, including endangered sparrows and song thrush, insects and bats.

South West spokesman Tony Whitehead, said: “We take a dim view of people cutting down trees between March and August when the birds are nesting. Although authorities are legally entitled to cut down trees on land they own, we would rather they didn’t unless it’s absolutely necessary. We would urge them to think carefully before acting in such a way.”

A spokeswoman for Devon & Cornwall Housing said: “We understand the feelings of residents at Underidge Road and take their views seriously. There was a request from local partners and our residents to review the area. We consulted with our residents and were largely supported by them and our local partners in clearing and improving the area which has created a clear pathway that the local community can now use and also gives better access on foot to the surrounding area.”

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  • ereeka1  |  February 06 2013, 6:30PM

    Re Gladys55 - one of DCH's reasons given to Underidge Road residents for destroying the trees was that the leaves blocked the drains! Most people in and around Underidge Road signed a petition against felling the trees. None of them compalained about anti-social behaviour. Police confirmed there had been no reported cases of serious anti-social behaviour in the area for around 10 years and that cutting down trees was not part of their strategy for combating these kind of problems. The idea to replant the lane was for a community project - free trees from the Woodland Trust and children to take responsibility for their own Jubilee tree. The Deputy Mayor promised some money, some Underidge residents might have contributed and it need not have cost people in Clovelly Rise anything. The accounts DCH showed us indicated they had collected more money from their tenants for maintenance of the lane than they had spent. Housing associations need to be more accountable and the Wildlife and Countryside Act needs significant amendment to follow Canada's good example and properly protect trees and wildlife from this kind of environmental vandalism.

  • Grapenut  |  January 28 2013, 6:47PM

    We've gone from the sublime to ridiculous. A few months ago it was Torbay Council who were happily erecting a "temporary" palm tree on a desolate roundabout on the outskirts of the town. Within a few months of all that hoo-hah, 74 fir trees are suddenly cut down with no warning at all to local residents. What on earth were Devon and Cornwall Housing thinking of? It's a major PR gaffe, a great loss to the environment and I have great sympathy with the local residents.

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  • TheGreenMan  |  January 28 2013, 6:22PM

    Re: 74 trees felled in Paignton. Presumably not one of the 74 trees had a Tree Preservation Order on it? In which case, having consulted with their residents and "local partners", Devon and Cornwall Housing were entitled to fell the conifers. However 74 trees is a major loss to the habitat. The association's actions show great insensitivity, especially to their neighbours who were not consulted, let alone the devastation it has caused to wildlife and the environment. I'm quite shocked, as I'm sure many other Paignton People readers are...

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  • breathgiver1  |  January 27 2013, 7:39PM

    I am from Germany and a frequent visitor to Paignton. It´s absolutely disappointing and not understandable how people can act in a way like this. Would they do this, if they were living in that street? Every tree deserves our respect and needs our personal protection because of it´s unique natural beauty and it´s ability to keep our environment healthier. When all the trees eventually are gone this People may eat their money, but not in the shadow.

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  • Gladys55  |  January 27 2013, 4:07PM

    As a resident of Clovelly Rise we were told by Devon and Cornwall Housing Ass. that the trees were being cut down because the residents of Underidge were very upset at the amount of underage drinking/drugs ect. that was occurring in the badly lit lane. (Not by residents of Clovelly Rise I might add) We were also told that the trees would be replaced and that the very kind residents of Underidge had suggested that the cost of the replacement trees should be taken out of our service charge!!!

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  • DevonJanner  |  January 27 2013, 12:45PM

    come and appreciate the carnage afoot around kerswell gardens, deforestration on a grand scale,all cover for natural habitat being ripped out ,no plan to replace just concrete!!

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  • Syrrets  |  January 26 2013, 10:56PM

    I am appalled by the irresponsible and selfish Devon and Cornwall Housing - this contemptible organisation should be heavily fined and forced to replant the trees. Quality of life and environmental well-being are far more important than saving a few pounds.

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 26 2013, 9:54PM

    Has felled timber reached an all time high price or something? As someone else has mentioned, trees are being felled left right and centre around the Bay! Is it all being sold to a biomass plant and someone is making a killing?

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  • franksobey  |  January 26 2013, 4:12PM

    So many trees have recently got the chop in Torbay. Almost a whole woodland disappeared the other day at Oldway. The woodland near Kerswell Garden has also go as the new ring road leaps into action. Sadly near my own house and ancient walnut tree is now two stumps. I like Glasgow122's idea of permission for all tree felling whether domestic or public.

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  • glasgow122  |  January 26 2013, 2:34PM

    I am an ex-Plymouthian living in Canada, Even though Canada is known as a country of lakes and trees, we are not allowed , by law, to cut down trees even if they are on our OWN property! If the municipalities here were to do what has happened there, there wou;d be no end of grief given to the authorities by the public. Residents in that neighbourhood need to band together, get legal counsel and sue the authorities. They cut the trees down to save what amounts to 9pounds per week?!! What do they do with the taxes that Plymouth home owners pay?!!

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