Birmingham & Black Country

Ring of Oaks removed from Shirley park for Asda store

Residents say they are devastated after several oak trees, more than 300 years old, were felled to make way for a supermarket.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council approved plans for the trees, known as the Ring of Oaks in Shirley Park, to be cut down as part of an £85m development in the district.

They were to be moved but independent surveys said they were too old.

Semi mature replacement trees would be planted in the park, the council said.

'Minimised intrusion'

Shirley resident Ann Turner, who is against the Parkgate development encroaching on the park, said the trees were "part of our heritage".

Several trees, surrounding a "mother" oak tree, were once part of the Forest of Arden, Ms Turner said.

"We're absolutely devastated to see so much has gone in such a short time.

"It really upsets me to think about it.

Image caption A sculpture or benches will be made from the "mother" oak and a smaller tree

"I've walked down this path with my parents in the 1940s and lived here all my life and all of a sudden it's just gone."

Developer Shirley Advance said 600-800 jobs would be created through new shops, an Asda supermarket and apartment construction.

It is paying for £500,000 improvements to the park, including using the "mother" trunk and another smaller tree as part of a sculpture or benches.

Spokesman Robert Birch said the development is on 1.35 hectares of the 34-acre park.

"We have minimised the intrusion on the park as much as possible... if we could avoid getting rid of them then we would," he said.

The council approved their removal at the end of February and the work began a week later.

A spokesman for the developer said the scheme has "had its ups and down" and the issues over the trees "has been contentious".

The council said some trees had suffered fire damage and decay and needed to be younger to survive relocation.

"Clearly no-one wants to remove healthy trees - that is why the planning committee initially imposed a condition that the developer investigated the feasibility of moving some of the trees.

"After careful consideration of the facts, planning committee members unanimously agreed that the developer should remove the trees."

Work on the redevelopment is set to begin in June with completion likely in winter 2013.

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