A company has defended its bid to fell mature trees in a conservation area.
LiveLink, which recently moved into the large former Town End House building in Havant, has applied to Havant Borough Council to fell a horse chestnut and sycamore.
The application has attracted mixed views, with some opposers, including Havant Civic Society and former county councillor Ann Buckley, stating the mature trees should not be chopped down as they are in the St Faith’s Conservation Area and next to the Hayling Billy Trail.
As reported, the company put in its planning application that one of the reasons for taking down the trees was to allow more light to reach solar panels on the building.
But, in a detailed letter to The News, general manager Chris Condrup said this was the ‘most minor’ of the reasons.
His statement says the maintenance of the grounds has ‘not been carried out effectively for many years’. The building, once used by Hampshire County Council, been empty for more than two years. Mr Condrup said the site had to comply with ‘the growing quantity of disability legislation’.
He said: ‘The root structures of both trees have created very uneven ground, which has led to a trip hazard and would be virtually impossible for a person in a wheelchair to navigate.’
He said the horse chestnut is 9ft away from the building and there were ‘serious long-term safety concerns’.
Among several other reasons, he added: ‘Initial landscaping improvements have recently discovered that the 100amp power cable to supply the lights and ticket machine in the car parking areas is entangled in the sycamore roots almost directly under the main trunk.
‘This not only creates a potential life-threatening hazard but also proves that there never was any intention for the sycamore to grow in this position so close to the building.’
The application is being supported by a group of residents in Lymbourn Road, as well as local resident Chris Waters.
He said it was ‘common sense’.
He added: ‘One of the trees is rooted above ground level and a potential risk should, in storm-force weather, it fall on to the Hayling Billy line, where I and hundreds of people each week walk and cycle.’
The company said it was spending a ‘significant sum of money’ replacing the trees with other mature varieties. A decision will be made by the council.