SAVE OUR TREES – Legal Action Begins

Wellingborough Residents Begin Action to Save the Protected Trees on The Walks in Wellingborough

Wellingborough Walks Action Group Limited (WWAG Ltd) have written to North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) notifying them of our intention to begin legal proceedings unless action is taken to save the protected trees on ‘The Walks’.

In February 2023, Stanton Cross Developments LLP felled 16 protected trees, many at least 140 years old. Many more remain under threat despite being protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). Due to action taken by WWAG Ltd and local residents, Stanton Cross and NNC agreed to a temporary pause, later extended to the end of July 2023. 

Since then, we have been asking the developer and Council to meet with us to find a way to save the remaining trees, including by agreeing changes to the planned works on London Rd roundabout.  While we are due to meet with representatives from Vistry Homes (part-owners of Stanton Cross Developments Ltd) and Wellingborough Town Council (WTC), NNC turned down our request, because of the threat of possible legal proceedings. 

The Chairperson of WWAG Ltd, Marion Turner-Hawes  said:

“Given the many statements made by NNC Councillors at the full council meeting on 30 March that no one wants to see any more protected trees felled from “The Walks”, we are very disappointed that the Council is refusing to engage in discussions to save the trees. We have asked for this meeting to avoid having to commence legal proceedings. The Council’s response, that it’s not appropriate to meet with a group that is prepared to take legal action to protect our trees, is misguided and deeply frustrating”.

WWAG Ltd remains ready to meet with NNC but, following the Council’s publication of its position on 30 March, we are also conscious of the need to act (given time limits on judicial review requests), if we want to save the trees which is why we have started the pre-action process today. Our letter, drafted with the help of barrister Will Upton KC, sets out why we believe the Council have acted unlawfully in failing to protect the trees and why they should take action to prevent more felling.

We have also asked again that NNC engage with us and the developer to find a solution that safeguards the trees. Although NNC inherited delivery of the Stanton Cross Sustainable Urban Expansion (SUE) from the now dissolved Borough Council of Wellingborough, NNC must ensure the TPO is complied with and the developer acts within the limits of any planning permission they are acting under. Our letter is clear that the exceptions to the TPO protection relied upon by the Council do not apply.

We hope the NNC will recognise that residents of Wellingborough feel very strongly about ‘The Walks’ and that not only is it appropriate for NNC to engage with WWAG Ltd, it is also the most effective way to find a permanent and sustainable solution that saves the protected trees and avoids legal proceedings. If not, we remain ready to take our case to the High Court.