Public outcry and opposition from Fenland District Council puts paid to removal of trees from Wisbech Market Place

Wisbech Sunday market - experts condemned town council plans to fell the trees

Wisbech Sunday market - experts condemned town council plans to fell the trees - Credit: Archant

Wisbech Town Council has abandoned proposals to fell eight trees on the market place following a public outcry and opposition from Fenland District Council.

Contractors had been ready and waiting to move in on Monday to remove the trees and dismantle the central plinth.

“There is a presumption against removing the trees as it is felt they contribute positively to the character and appearance of the conservation area,” says the district council conservation officer.

The council’s comments were made public the day after the Wisbech Standard revealed details of proposals.

By last Wednesday the town council had thrown in the towel.

Town clerk Terry Jordan confirmed that the markets committee met on Monday and withdrew the scheme. They hope to meet district council officials to review options for the market place.

Mr Jordan said because the trees were within a conservation area they had applied to the district council for their removal.

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“We were informed we were likely to receive a recommendation of refusal,” he said.

Fenland officials said the trees offer “a strong visual presence” and are “a natural feature within this urban space”.

The district council also questioned the town council’s statement that the trees should be removed “due to poor top growth and damage to paving causing trip hazards”.

Fenland’s arboriculture officer “confirmed they are not diseased or decayed and are in good health.

“It is not felt the trees need removing just because they are slow growing given that they appear healthy with full crowns.

“With regard to the root hazard issue it would appear that at present there is very limited damage to paving with some iron grills around the base of the trees having lifted.

“It is understood that this issue can be overcome without the need to remove the trees as the grills can be replaced by alternative coverings.

“It is not felt that adequate justification has been given for removing the trees at this time and the reasons cited are weak.”

Mr Jordan, however, insisted “removal of the trees, which are not healthy specimens are causing damage to the paving and a trip hazard”.

And council leader David Oliver said: “By taking those trees out of the centre we can then open up the market place when we want to do events.

“At the moment the trees effectively cut the market area in half.”