'We might sell our house' - couple react to council's plan to cut back trees

PUBLISHED: 08:11 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:39 10 December 2019

Ben and Jane Lister. Photo: ARCHANT.

Ben and Jane Lister. Photo: ARCHANT.

Archant

When Jane and Ben Lister moved out of London seven years ago, it was because they were attracted to the greenery of Saffron Walden.

Ben and Jane Lister. Photo: ARCHANT.Ben and Jane Lister. Photo: ARCHANT.

Now, the couple say the district council wants to cut down trees by their home and up to the Common, a move which is forcing them to consider selling up.

Jane, an arts teacher, and Ben, photographer, of Hollyhock Road, say five neighbouring trees will be cut by Uttlesford District Council on December 14.

"This doesn't leave us much time to get it sorted. We bought the house, we were ecstatic to live here." said Ben.

He added: "Since then, the traffic noise and pollution have increased and trees provide protection. They protect us from sunshine. We are very upset."

The trees are located by their house, but, as they are on the side of the Slade ditch, they are on council-owned property.

The plans come, the Listers say, after they wanted the trees sheltering their home to be managed and trimmed.

"All we said [to the council] is we are getting leaves, they have not managed them and they ended up like this, and then they come back after two weeks, saying they want to kill all of them off. This was shocking," said Ben.

The couple believe all the trees up to the Common will eventually be 'killed'.

Ben said: "This is us, it's more personal, but all the trees up to the Common are not personal, they clean the air for the town. They have been here for decades. They are ancient. We don't want to feel like we have to sell the house because we are losing these beautiful trees."

According to the family, the council explained the trees would be cut for safety reasons, and that they would grow back, while being kept to 10 metres over the next decade. But the Listers say they were given no alternatives, no technical assessment and believe chopping the trees down would make them erode, as well as get rid of an area of "native species".

Ben said the move would affect the 'developing lungs' of his nine-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter: "All these trees are our green lung".

"It would absolutely ruin our Christmas. We have family coming from Europe visiting on Christmas Day and the impact doesn't bear thinking about," Jane added.

A council spokesman said: "We are intending to fell three self-set sycamore trees and coppice other trees growing on the bank of the Slade river between Hollyhock Road and Hatherley Court. This work is considered necessary to safeguard adjacent properties and to maintain the integrity of the river bank. This work is intended to be commenced on December 14."

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