Fury over hedge and tree removal in Stockton
A housing giant has been accused of making a ‘bloody mess’ after hedges and trees were removed as part of efforts to create a sprawling new estate.
Taylor Wimpey is working on homes off Yarm Back Lane after 969 properties were approved by Stockton Council’s planning committee in a knife vote last year. But Thornaby Mayor Cllr Steve Walmsley – who also sat on the panel – was shocked by what he saw on a recent trip past the development on his way to North Tees Hospital.
He told Monday night’s town council meeting: ‘What a bloody mess it is out there. There were rows of trees and hedges everywhere.
The huge request was approved by a 7-6 vote last year after an effort to push back the decision due to traffic problems on the stretch was defeated.
Claims that the ‘sword of Damocles’ hung over committee members were heard at another meeting that year after it emerged that £10m of road funding linked to the interchange of Elton were suspended from the plan being approved.
Housing forms a big part of the huge ‘West Stockton Sustainable Urban Extension’ which is expected to bring more than 2,500 new homes to the town’s western flank.
The concern was shared by Teesside radio giant Gary Phillipson in March after he too was taken aback by the state of the stretch.
In a post on Twitter, he added: “I am flabbergasted at the number of trees and miles of old hedgerow lines that have been cut down and removed from the field adjacent to the road…so sad to see.”
Past concerns have arisen over deer at the accommodation site amid concerns that some had been ‘trapped and scared away’ earlier this year.
But the promoter said the deer did not appear hurt or distressed and had created “several openings” to cheer them on from their own accord.
Stockton South MP Matt Vickers had opposed the original accommodation before it was approved.
The Tory MP feared for animal habitats and was also upset about the state of the stretch.
Mr Vickers said: ‘Council should never have given the green light to this development – creating greenfield sites while the city’s brownfield sites remain undeveloped.
“We warned of the impact on traffic, and the strain that already exists on local facilities like doctors and dentists and the impact on local nature and wildlife – although I didn’t think one minute the site would be ripped like it did.
“Hedges and trees were torn down with no regard for the wildlife or even the appearance of the site.”
Regarding the latest concerns about lost hedges, Taylor Wimpey said he understands residents’ concerns.
A company spokesperson added: ‘We would like to assure them that the decision to remove the hedges was not taken lightly and that we are committed to planting new landscaping in its place.
“It was agreed with Stockton Council (that) we would need to remove the hedges to facilitate the improvements to the motorway. We have therefore ensured that our development plans include a high quality, sustainable and deliverable buffer zone for the highway, as well as a significant amount of planting within the development itself.
“We always strive to build our new homes in a considerate manner and minimize any disruption as much as possible.”
Fairfield councilor Maurice Perry said he had complained about the development’s mud problems and lost hedges for some time.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he had been in contact with council officials.
Cllr Perry added: ‘I’ve kept an eye on it and I’m not totally happy with it – but there are washers who go down this road to clean it. They’re doing something – but if it’s enough, I don’t know.
“I didn’t agree with this development – I don’t like to build on empty land.
“Bill (Woodhead) and I are monitoring this, particularly given the traffic at the north and south ends of Yarm Back Lane, to make sure they are following the requirements.
“I’ve been on construction sites around the world and there’s a lot of dirt – but there’s no excuse for it and it needs to be cleaned all the time.”
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