Townspeople have objected to the unannounced felling of ten trees on one of Banbury’s canalside rest areas.
Banbury Civic Society (BCS) has demanded to know on whose authority the trees were cut down while a pensioner, who has regularly used the spot as a rest area, described it as a ‘sheer vandalism’.
The five most mature trees stood on the edge of the canal at the north end of Castle Quay, outside the south car park – interspersed with benches.
The other five were sawn down from their positions on the other side of a footbridge over the canal, outside the shopping mall.
With their disappearance some weeks ago, Peter Monk, chairman of BCS, wrote to Cherwell District Council to ask why the trees had been destroyed.
“All that is left now is a line of stumps flush with the ground,” he said.
“When the Castle Quay 2 management produced artists’ impressions of the CQ2 development they featured these very trees.
“It is a crying shame that these well-grown trees have now been cut down.
“They were good trees which provided shade for those sitting on the canalside and had nice foliage in the autumn.”
In a letter to Cherwell on March 18, on behalf of BCS, Mr Monk said: “So far as we are aware these trees are not protected by tree protection orders but are outside the (designated) area affected by the construction of the proposed hotel included in the Castle Quay 2 permission.
“The trees on both sides of the canal along the frontage of CQ 1 and CQ 2 greatly enhance the environment and attractiveness of this area and we view with great concern any attempt to remove these on whatever pretext.”
He asked why the trees were removed and on whose authority.
And he asked for an assurance that no other trees will be removed in conjunction with the CQ 2 project. Mr Monk has not received a reply.
Ruth Tilton, 84, said she regularly used the shaded canalside seating area as a resting place after walking from her retirement apartment in School Lane, off the Southam Road, into the town centre.
“I walk with a frame and it’s one of my favourite ways of going into town,” she said.
“So many of us go along. It’s a blessing in the summer, to be able to sit there and rest and talk to the barge owners. It looks awful now.
“We can’t get those trees back. It is so sad.
“They seem to be paying lip service about looking after the area. It’s sheer vandalism,” she said.
Tom Slingsby, spokesman for Cherwell council, said: “ As part of the ongoing preparatory work for the start of the Castle Quay 2 development, some site clearance has been commissioned, in line with the development proposal.
“New trees will be planted as part of the works which are scheduled to begin on site later this year.”