Fury as historic Kettering tree felled without notice

The tree has been chopped down without neighbours being warned. NNL-181019-151555005
The tree has been chopped down without neighbours being warned. NNL-181019-151555005

The decision to fell a tree of historic importance without telling Kettering residents has been labelled ‘bang out of order’.

Two cedar trees replaced captured German guns on land at Legion Crescent, near Kettering General Hospital, when the guns were re-located in 1930.

The tree, next to the second tree which has not been felled. NNL-181019-151543005

The tree, next to the second tree which has not been felled. NNL-181019-151543005

With little over three weeks until the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, one of the trees was chopped down this week.

But residents weren’t made aware or given the chance to raise concerns, leaving an elderly woman in tears when she saw tree fellers contracted by Kettering Council at work.

Peter Kirk, who has lived in Legion Crescent for about a year, said: “If they had at least told us the outcome could have been different.

“But to go and hack it down with no concern for the history of it is bang out of order.”

In the 1920s the land was donated by the Duke of Buccleuch and 12 houses were built for First World War veterans.

At the end of conflict two captured German field guns were displayed there alongside a battle-scarred tank.

The tank was eventually broken up for scrap and the guns re-located in 1930, with the space replaced by the two cedar trees.

Mr Kirk said that no reports on the tree were conducted and that it was a healthy tree.

He said he believed the decision to fell it was based on an opinion by a Kettering Council officer who appeared to have no knowledge of its history and that it had had a huge impact on the view from their windows.

He said: “It was a perfectly healthy tree. We’ve now got a massive hole in our outlook from our houses.

“It’s like looking at a dead whale washed up on a beach.”

Emails sent by Kettering Council’s grounds services manager Sarah Parr, seen by the Northants Telegraph, said branch failures left the tree unmanageable by reduction with the only option being to remove it.

She said the council’s tree gang had attended the site 14 times in 10 years to clear storm damage but admitted they should have told residents of their plans before chopping it down.

One email said: “We are at some fault on this occasion for not informing people of this and explaining when it was going to happen and the reasons for it.

“We wouldn’t at this time have been able to carry out a consultation asking for opinions as we have a duty of care to local residents but we certainly could have warned people of its removal.”

Another email apologised for any stress caused and a further email sent by Ms Parr said the council was ‘pro-tree’.

It said: “Kettering Council take removal of trees incredibly seriously.

“We are the only local council who pro-actively plants trees on both highways and on our own land.”

Mr Kirk said a meeting to discuss the actions had been planned for next week.

He said he hopes a preservation order will be placed on the second tree and that the council will review its procedures in the future.