A MAJOR building firm has been accused of cutting back on tree planting to save money at a key housing development in South Tyneside.
Despite streets on the Cleadon Park estate in South Shields being named after trees and shrubs, none have yet been planted on latest phases of the long-running project.
There are no trees at all in the recently-built Cherry Tree Walk or Clover Way – despite their names.
Yet in Mulberry Crescent, completed some years ago, there are trees aplenty.
Colin Campbell, executive officer of South Tyneside Landlords’ Association, believes housebuilder Bellway may be trying to prune costs – claiming each tree costs £400 to £500 to plant.
Bellway denies this and says construction access problems have resulted in delays in carrying out the tree planting in some streets.
Managing director Tracey Brady has committed the firm to go ahead with the planting.
Mr Campbell says streets built in the early years of the £100m decade-long transformation of the estate were tree-lined but, in more recent phases completed since 2011, “things have slipped” and no planting has taken place.
Mr Campbell said: “There has been no tree planting south of Redwood Avenue – the old Park Avenue – up to the Ridgeway. Yet I have an amended plan, from November 2009, in which all of the street trees were still in place.
“Trees are important. They make an area homely and more attractive. Why have no trees been planted in the streets now being completed, including Clover Way? Why name a street Cherry Tree Walk, then not put any trees on it?
“Bellway submitted revised plans in 2011 and those plans clearly showed street trees in phases four and five of the development. So why no trees?
“It appears that the council has taken its eye off the ball and not ensured that the development proceeded as the original planning permission.”
Mr Campbell added: “In these recent streets there are not even grilles in place in which the trees can eventually go. It’s all block pavements.
“I am raising this now because we have the South Shields 365 masterplan for the town centre.
“I want to be sure that any developer completes work as per the specification and is not be allowed to ‘do their own thing’, without the work being scrutinised along the way.”
South Tyneside Council could not provide a comment on the matter before the Gazette went to press.
HOUSING developer Bellway today pledged that all trees would be planted on the Cleadon Park estate.
Tracey Brady, managing director, said: “Due to some construction delays over the period of the development, we have as yet not been able to complete three road connections to allow us access to the remainder of our development.
“This has, in turn, prevented us from moving our site compound to a new location on the opposite side of the development.
“For this reason, we are still receiving deliveries from articulated wagons to the current area and as the compound is located on the junction of Clover Way and Lynwood Way, the old Ashgrove Avenue, we have been careful with tree planting until such time as there is no construction traffic operating within the vicinity.
“Thought was given to installing the tree grilles but, after further consideration, it was decided that leaving open tree grilles within a public footpath would cause a health and safety hazard.
“We fully intended to retrospectively fulfil our obligations by planting trees fronting all occupied properties in Clover Way, Lynwood Way and Cherry Tree Walk.”
A spokesman for Bellway said social landlord Mr Campbell had been invited on a tour of the estate to go through the area “street by street, tree by tree”, to explain how the work was progressing – but that offer was refused.