Wellingborough Walks tree campaign could need £50,000 more in fight to save historic avenue
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Campaigners fighting the felling of an avenue of trees in Wellingborough’s London Road have been boosted by the support for their cause – but could need thousands more if the case goes to court.
Wellingborough Walks Action Group Ltd (WWAG) was formed after 16 Wellingborough Walks trees were chopped down by developers. Recently, more than 100 people heard WWAG members explain the group’s actions in their attempts to safeguard the historic trees.
As well as a timeline of events, attendees were asked if they supported the group’s use of funds raised so far – and in the future.
Marion Turner-Hawes, chairperson of WWAG, said: “We are buzzing. We feel more invigorated and it’s been very positive.
"We asked people if we still had their support and they said ‘yes’.”
Ms Turner-Hawes laid out the group’s finances and possible spending needs to carry on the fight to save ‘as many trees as possible’.
Since March, WWAG supporters and members have raised £43,000, and spent £36,779 on legal costs including barristers, solicitors and a highways consultant.
Instead of going straight to court, WWAG engaged with developers Stanton Cross/Vistry Group and North Northants Council as the planning authority. But ‘technical discussions’ to thrash out a solution to save the remaining trees broke down during the summer.
The group’s collaborative approach has eaten into a large chunk of money spent hoping to find an out-of-court agreement. Meanwhile papers have been lodged with a high court judge who will make the final decision on whether there is a case to answer.
Ms Turner-Hawes said: “If we get permission then we go to court. Just to get to court we’re talking the best part of £30,000. If we get turned down and appeal, that’s another £10,000. If we lose that’s £10,000 plus in costs. All in all that’s about £50,000.
"We have said that if we don’t have the money then we don’t go to court.”
As the September 1 deadline approaches a new petition has been launched to urge North Northants Council to prevent the felling of the trees.
Ms Turner-Hawes said: "It’s not just Wellingborough’s challenge, it’s the whole of north Northamptonshire. It’s down to the community to say how much do they want this to save such an important county asset.
"The only way we are going to save these trees is through a legal process.”