A number of protected trees that were chopped down without consent are to be replaced in a coup for angered residents.

Contractors for housing group Together Housing, which owns a piece of land on St Alban’s Road in Darwen earmarked for development, cut down several trees in January, despite there being tree preservation orders in place on the majority of them.

Residents in the area were left gobsmacked when they saw workers pulling down protected cherry, holly and hawthorn trees, and demanded answers as to why the work was allowed to go ahead.

Carol Tapp, who lives in the next street, said: “We approached the workmen telling them the trees were protected but they said they were simply ‘carrying out what they had been asked to do’.

“Which begs the question as to who, actually, defied the laws of the land?"

Lancashire Telegraph: The replacement trees will be planted as soon as possible

Gavin Prescott, planning manager at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council said they were 'incredibly disappointed that, despite the tree protection order being in place, they’ve been removed without our prior approval', and that the council were working with the developers to ensure the issue was resolved.

Hilary Brady, Director of Development for Together Housing Group, said: "We understand that some trees on one of our development sites have been removed in error.

"We are very sorry to learn that the local residents have been upset by this and we are currently investigating the matter with the contractor on site, Vistry Partnerships."

Darwen residents in uproar after protected trees cut down

On Monday, the council formally released the decision notice relating to the approval of the revised landscaping scheme and agreed to replace some of the trees with immediate effect.

Mr Prescott said: "The replacement for the group that were removed is going to be a Beech hedge with some Holly which will give evergreen cover.

"The four trees within that hedge will be native Birch and Rowan.

"The trees will be sized at heavy standard which will give an instant impact to the adjoining residents, the hedging will be whips and will obviously take longer to establish, but will have an impact, in terms of screening."

Lancashire Telegraph: The trees in Darwen were unlawfully felled

A visit to the site last Thursday confirmed there is some land preparation needed prior to putting in the trees and hedging whips as it was important to ensure the ground conditions were right before planting to allow a better chance for their establishment.

In addition, protective fencing is to be installed around the area during the construction phase.

Despite previous concerns, no bird or bat boxes were present within the felled trees, and also no nesting birds.

Mr Prescott added: "Once the development is complete, we will be producing a new revised full TPO for the development site that will include the new species around the site that are to be protected, which will be subject to public consultation."

Lancashire Telegraph: The trees in Darwen were unlawfully felled

Mrs Tapp said her faith in humanity had been restored, commenting: "I would like to thank the council and their team sincerely for resolving this issue.

"I'm sure I speak also for the concerned (and heartbroken) residents of Hartington Road.

"Their response has restored my faith in humanity."