Councillors have approved plans to fell and prune trees in an area classified as “ancient woodland” in order to bring about improvements to footpaths and bridleways in the woods.
Ashfield District Council will undertake the work after approving its own application, which will take place within woodland known locally as Bluebell Wood in Little Oak Plantation, Annesley Woodhouse.
The application was reviewed by the planning committee on Wednesday (15December) and unanimously approved by councillors.
Documents state the land is owned by developer Taylor Wimpey Development Ltd, with the company giving written permission for the council to undertake the works.
Following the approval, the council will now undertake “pruning and limited felling to various trees” within the woodland and improve footpaths through part of the woods.
This will be done, the council says, by cutting up and removing a fallen tree currently blocking ‘Annesley Bridleway 30’.
The authority would also clear ground cover and vegetation to 2.5 metres on either side of the existing bridleway, and remove holly shrub and an “asymmetrical oak” to facilitate the connection between the plantation and Oakwood Fields.
The council will remove a second oak tree “if required”, the application added, and some trees will be crowned to a height of four metres to support horseriders.
These works will also allow for the introduction of access gates and fences, with councillors told these would be introduced to prevent unauthorised access from motorcyclists and other vehicles.
Speaking in the meeting, Mick Morley, the council’s development team manager, said: “You can’t stop motorcyclists, it’s very difficult to, but the things going to be put in are to preclude them as much as possible.
“It will assist everyone else in gaining access in the hope to preclude them, it’s the best solutions being put forward.”
Five letters of objection were submitted against the plans, raising several concerns to the authority’s application.
These include the plantation being protected by a tree preservation order (TPO), as well as being within ancient woodland with a public right of way network.
Residents also feared footpath widening will “damage the natural flora and fauna”, describing it as “unnecessary” and suggesting “not enough information [has been] submitted” on the works.
Similar concerns were raised in an official letter of objection submitted at late notice by Annesley and Felley Parish Council.
However, Councillor Dave Martin (Ash Ind), who sits on the parish council, refuted some of the objections by that authority and believes the works will be “beneficial”.
He said: “Half of the objections I don’t agree with because, yes the plantation is in the greenbelt and the works could permanently damage the historic site, but actually this whole scheme is about the maintenance of the site.
“It’s about maintaining this historic woodland for the broader use of the woodland, that’s the whole area behind it.
“To clear trees that have fallen across the bridleway, to crown raise trees so people on horseback can ride through it, and widening the footpath so they have plenty of clearance from other users, is all hugely beneficial.”
A planning condition set on the development means the works must be completed within the next two years.