NEIGHBOURS of a Bournemouth town centre site earmarked for a £150 million redevelopment have criticised a part council-owned company for proposals to cut down protected trees.

People living next to the Winter Gardens site say developers have reneged on a promise to keep the “irreplaceable” trees.

But Bournemouth Development Company, which is half-owned by BCP Council, said plans have not changed since the complex of 352 homes plus restaurants and shops was approved in November.

In April a reserved matters application was submitted for the landscaping elements of the scheme, including a public ‘piazza’ and “natural” play area.

As part of this, dozens of trees, including 19 with tree protection orders, are proposed for felling.

However, this has drawn criticism from neighbours living in Cranborne Road who say the removal of the trees will “detrimentally” affect their privacy.

Peter Adams, who lives at Beechwood Court, said: “We were assured at the original meetings with developers that there would be no removal of trees whatsoever.

“Aside from the preservation orders, these long-standing trees provide an irreplaceable character to the area.

“The trees provide integral privacy to the long-established blocks of flats along Cranborne Road. The removal of these trees will have a severe impact on residents’ privacy.”

Concern was raised when the outline application was approved that councillors were giving favourable treatment to the scheme because it was put forward by a developer partly owned by the council.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Steve Bartlett said: “Some people might say that this application would never have seen the light of day if it wasn’t a Bournemouth Development Company scheme.”

However, company director Duncan Johnston, (pictured) said that they had not changed their plans for trees on the site since permission was granted at the end of last year.

“The outline application that was approved in November stated that there are 140 existing trees and six groups of trees on site,” he said. “Of these 78 existing trees will be protected, and 62 trees will be removed.

“The majority of the trees that are being removed and replaced with new trees, including the 19 trees with a tree protection order, are on the centre of the site, are not visible from the surrounding vantage points, and are of poor quality.”

He added that most of those lining Cranborne Road would not be removed and that dozens of new trees would be planted as part of the development.

“Overall, 64 new trees will be planted: their size, location and species carefully selected for their setting,” he said.

“As such, the landscape plan will represent a net increase of trees on the site. The concept from the beginning was to maintain a ‘green corridor’ along Cranborne Road, and we would be happy to explain these plans again to neighbours.”

The application is being considered by BCP Council planning officers with a decision due to be made in the coming weeks.