A community is at war over plans to build a house on a designated public open space that is used by families as a safe haven for children.
Residents in The Paddocks have enjoyed the amenity space outside their Linslade homes since the houses were built in 1957.
But a month ago the tranquillity of the close was shattered. Families went outside to see contractors moving onto the pretty open space and start felling trees that had provided a wildlife refuge for more than 50 years.
Swift calls to Central Beds Council put a stop to the destruction but not before five trees had been ruthlessly felled.
But then local families discovered, almost by accident, that a developer has put in to build a four-bed house on the site.
Mother-of-three Victoria Waple, who lives next to the proposed development, told the LBO: “Everyone is concerned about losing this valuable amenity land.
“Our children have a safe place to play.
“They’re out there sledging on the slope in the winter and having a kickabout with their friends in the summer.
“It’s the only green space in this area and it’s a godsend for families as all the houses overlook it.
“We know where our children are and can see them from our houses.
“When The Paddocks were built the land was designated a public open space and we have letters to prove it.
“Suddenly we find out someone wants to put a house on it. I live right next to the planned site yet I hadn’t had any notification of it nor was there any public notices put up to publicise the application.
“Residents found out about this almost by accident and we’ve had almost no time to prepare any sort of unified objection.
“We’re calling on all neighbours to use the planning process and send in letters of objection to the council before we lose this incredibly valuable amenity. We’ve already contacted our local councillors and MP Andrew Selous
“We’ve stopped them cutting down any more trees - but for how long?”
A report from the applicants to the council stresses that they only intended to remove one tree out of 16 that occupies the land.
The council has now imposed a tree preservation order on the rest.
A spokesman for CBC said: “The planning application for the site was only processed last week and site notices are set to go up next week.
“Notice of the application has been sent to additional neighbouring properties for their comments but anyone can make representation by April 22 on the council’s website, using the planning application reference CB/14/00863 or by writing to the Case Officer, Mrs Donna Lavender.
“As the application is still in the very early stages, there is yet to be a site visit.
“This will form part of the decision-making process, as will any representations made, and consideration of other factors including the history, principle and impact of the development and its impact on local amenity.
“The council’s trees and landscapes officer will investigate reports of tree felling and take appropriate action”.
Michael Osbourn, of Bedford-based DLP Planning Consultants – who are acting as agents for Clarence Country Homes – told the LBO he was unsure who removed the trees.
He said: “I would question whether they were removed in relation to the development or whether it was because a number of the trees were diseased.
“The tree survey reported that a number were dead or had fungal infections.”
“At the time of the survey none of the trees were under protected status.”