ABOUT TURN BY STANTON CROSS DEVELOPMENTS IN CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE PROTECTED TREES ON ‘THE WALKS’ IN WELLINGBOROUGH
On 25th May 2023 all parties involved in the Judicial Review Claim lodged by Wellingborough Walks Action Group Ltd on 18th May 2023 to save Wellingborough Walks Trees, were asked to provide a joint statement about WWAG’s request to ‘stay’ proceedings to allow time for out of court discussions between all parties (known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR)) to happen and hopefully arrive at a meaningful agreement that would save the trees and negate the need for Court action.
As part of this process the IP (interested party) in this case, Stanton Cross Developments LLP (SCD) has now made it clear that they see little point in the proceedings being ‘delayed’ by a stay to allow for out of court discussions as they feel the meeting held on 19th of May, and subsequent correspondence “served to demonstrate that the parties are not likely to reach agreement on the disputed issues through ADR (alternative dispute resolution)”.
They go on to say that they, SCD, believe they have the appropriate planning permission and that the felling of up to 40 trees from Wellingborough Walks is required and is lawful under the existing planning approval.
They dispute that any meaningful agreements were made at the meeting of the 19th May 2023, and any reasonable chance of the Claimant (WWAG) and the IP (SCD) coming to a mutual agreement if the meetings did happen.
WWAG Ltd RESPONSE
Members of WWAG were left dismayed and saddened to read of this radical change of approach by SCD (the IP) particularly given the proposal by SCD colleagues at the meeting on 19th May to hold technical discussions and their further commitment to pause any tree felling beyond the end of July to allow time for these discussions to progress.
“This feels like SCD have done a complete 180 degree about-turn”, said WWAG Ltd Chairperson, Marion Turner-Hawes. “Just two weeks ago in a room of 13 people, including Councillors from Wellingborough Town Council, SCD made commitments to hold technical discussions and to work with WWAG Ltd and our highways expert to see if there could be a way that the plans for the roundabout on London Rd could be amended to save as many protected tree as possible. Those discussions have not even happened yet, but they seem happy to relinquish this idea even while they were agreeing arrangements with us to hold these technical discussions”.
“We feel badly let down”, says Ms Turner-Hawes. “At the meeting the CEO of Vistry Homes made a specific point that we should all be able to trust each other, that request sounds hollow to us now given SCD’s new stated position, and their belief that we are so far apart that the Court should be left to resolve this”.
Ms Turner-Hawes goes on to say, “this about-turn on their commitments by SCD will not go down well with local residents who trusted their proposed approach and believed SCD did intend to do their best to save the trees, and this will do little to enhance trust with local residents that Vistry Homes CEO stated in the meeting he was keen to re-build following a number of issues recently where he accepted that SCD had ‘dropped the ball’ when it came to working on issues ‘on the other side of the railway line’ (i.e. within existing areas of Wellingborough)”.
“How are we ever supposed to believe them now” she asked. “Many people will be reading in the local paper this weekend and welcoming the news about the extended halt to tree felling beyond the end of July stated by SCD on 19th May, only now to discover, days later, that they (SCD) have taken this away, and that far from not being ‘wedded to the present design of the London Rd Roundabout’ as Vistry Homes CEO mentioned in that meeting, SCD are actually determined that their present plans should not change. So we have to question did they ever have any intension of entering in to discussions in good faith”.
“It’s very frustrating but we plough on, determined that the voice of these protected trees and the many residents of Wellingborough who hold this avenue of trees in such high regard, will be heard one way or another”.
Ms Turner-Hawes goes on to say “we have already raised more than £23,000 in donations to take action to protect the trees and safeguard our Embankment area. People from Wellingborough, both near and far, have been so kind and amazing really. But the legal process is a costly business and we need to raise more funds to ensure we can defend our case in Court, if the Judge accepts this. So if people, businesses or community bodies are able to contribute this would help ensure the voice of the trees and local residents are properly heard”.
“We can not say if we will be able to save the trees but we are doing our utmost to ensure that can happen. We had hoped this could happen through mutual agreement where the trees could be saved and the developer would still get their roundabout but it appears this is now less likely, but we carry on and we trust that the people of Wellingborough will continue to support these efforts to save the Trees and the natural heritage of the Walks”.
People wishing to donate can do this by going to https://saveourtrees.co.uk/donate/
If you wish to make a cash donation please complete the form on the ‘Donate’ page of the website and our colleague will be in touch with you to make arrangements.
Once again thank you so much for your kind support