Tree loss from housing plan raises fears over future of village Rooks

Concerns will be raised with Barnsley Council over the potential loss of trees to make way for a new housing development in the historic village of Oxspring which, it is claimed, could cost its last remaining rookery.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 1:33 pm
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 1:45 pm
Birds circle over Roughbirchworth Lane in Oxspring

Lifelong resident and former councillor John Wade said the village had three colonies of rooks in the past, with two already gone.

The last remaining birds used trees which could be threatened by plans to put 23 new homes on a site off Roughbirchworth Lane, on the fringe of the village, said Mr Wade, who will be writing to the council to express his fears about the impact of losing tree on their ability to remain in the village.

A tree survey submitted as part of the planning application shows 44 individual trees on the site, with some forming an avenue along an access to existing buildings, which would also be demolished as part of the development, along with nine groups of trees and shrubs.

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Former councillor John Wade

To allow the development, 29 of the trees and all the shrub groups would have to be removed.

The report describes the avenue of trees as: “Generally in good overall condition and collectively provide a good level of amenity throughout the site and the surrounding area.”

It states that some sycamores would need maintenance if they were to remain and that two beech trees were: “More significant; however, they are not visually prominent from beyond the site, being surrounded by larger trees of higher amenity value that are to be retained within the planned development.”

The report goes on to state: “The removal of the more significant trees from the site can largely be mitigated through a considered and appropriate planting scheme within the new residential development.

“The retained trees within the site form a natural boundary between the development and the public cycle trail to the north east. These are the largest and most significant trees at the site and provide a good level of screening value.”

Mr Wade said: “Oxspring had three rookeries and this is the last. It is important to the village and I am worried it will be affected if these trees are removed.

“I will be writing to the council because it is important they consider that,” he said.

Others in the village were planning to raise similar concerns, he said.

Mr Wade is also concerned about the loss of buildings on the site, which pre-date much of the modern elements of the village.

An archaeological report states the site of the village’s origins remains unknown and there could be evidence on the site, which could be examined as it was cleared for development.

However, a railway cutting was put through land to the edge of the development site in the 19th Century which could have disturbed evidence of earlier settlements.

It is around a year since plans for the development were submitted to the council, with those who have expressed an interest in the proposals now being offered the opportunity to comment before a decision is made on whether to allow it to go ahead.