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Mid Suffolk District Council reassures Stowmarket residents after Walnut Tree Walk trees felled without warning




‘There will always be walnut tress in Walnut Tree Walk’ – that is the assurance Mid Suffolk District Council has given after trees were felled and cut back a couple of weeks ago.

Stowmarket residents were horrified to discover the walnut trees, which stood on the former middle school site, had been felled without warning.

They believed the work had been undertaken as part of redevelopment plans for 38 homes on the site – with some trees earmarked for the chop under the proposals.

Sharri McGarry and Simon Lee-Frampton were horrified to discover walnut trees, which stood on the former middle school site, had been felled without warning. Picture by Mark Westley
Sharri McGarry and Simon Lee-Frampton were horrified to discover walnut trees, which stood on the former middle school site, had been felled without warning. Picture by Mark Westley

People took to social media to protest about the action, calling for better public consultation and more value to be placed on trees.

Sharri McGarry, of Stowmarket climate emergency group Stow Eco Future, said the ‘beautiful’ walnut trees had sentimental and ecological value.

“There has been a lack of communication. Noone knew these trees were under threat. It has really flared everybody up. It seems Mid Suffolk District Council has vastly underestimated the community value of these trees,” said Sharri.

Walnut Tree Walk. Picture by Mark Westley
Walnut Tree Walk. Picture by Mark Westley

“There is huge grief at every single of those trees lying on the ground now.”

The trees were planted decades ago by the late headteacher Mike Arbon, who realised there were no walnut trees in Walnut Tree Walk. They had matured and become a much-loved feature of the street scene. Mr Arbon died in 2019.

However, Mid Suffolk District Council said this week the work was carried out as a result of a notice issued by Suffolk County Council Highways Licencing and Enforcement, giving Mid Suffolk 21 days to clear trees overhanging the road.

A spokeswoman said: “Legally, we had to clear any vegetation 2.6m above any pavement and 5.2m above the road. We cut back two of the trees, but three of the trees closest to the fence had to be removed in order to avoid them having to be cut back again during the summer months – which would then have endangered nesting birds.

“We regret, however, that we did not offer this reassurance to residents before this work was carried out. Steps are being put in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

John Matthissen, Green Party district councillor, said: "As a member of the council, up to a point I feel a collective responsibility for what the council does.

“I’ve been campaigning to protect our environment for around five decades and became a Green Party councillor to try to improve things from the ‘inside’, so the recent damage and destruction to so many trees (including in Thurston; Hurstlea Road, Needham; and now Walnut Tree Walk) is enormously upsetting and completely counter to what I and other Green Party councillors work for.

“It is always worth contacting your councillor regarding issues which relate to district council matters – it is part of our role to feed views back to decision-makers and to work with staff and managers to achieve successful and thriving communities. Sometimes councillors don’t succeed in influencing matters, sometimes we gain access to additional information which can allay concerns and at other times we do actually achieve positive change. Please do make sure your voice is heard.”

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