Council chiefs have reassured residents living in a South Shields street that replacement trees will be planted after those earmarked for felling have been removed.
Work is set to be carried out in due course along Lady’s Walk after complaints the footpath was becoming uneven and dangerous.
But while it had been thought the paving could be replaced within a shorter timescale, it was discovered the problem was being caused by the roots of nearby trees.
Permission is being sought to remove the trees via the council’s planning process, due to them being protected by Tree Preservation Orders,
If given the green light, once removed they will be replaced with smaller trees which would act as a screen to protect the privacy of properties in the area.
The issue over the delay to work and concerns over the planned felling of trees, under the Tree Preservation Order, was raised by Green Party campaigner David Francis after he was approached by residents.
He said: “Since this was brought to my attention, I’ve been along to have a look at the area.”
“I spoke to a number of local residents and I can fully appreciate why they are concerned. They’ve been told that more trees would be planted and now the opposite is happening.
“One man told me that although his initial email had been acknowledged by a ward councillor, he has heard nothing more on the matter.
“These residents feel let down and are seeking assurances that their privacy will be protected.”
It is understood the hold up to work is due to permission needing to be sought to continue works.
Coun Audrey McMillan said: “The roots of the trees are growing through the paths which residents have said they are concerned about.
“Because the trees are under a Tree Preservation Order, permission has to be sought and it’s this which is delaying the works.
“We know there has been concerns over privacy and smaller trees will be planted in their place which will help to alleviate those concerns.
“As yet, we don’t have any dates as to when work will take place.”
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Homes added: “As part of the borough’s general maintenance programme, shrub reduction work was started in the area last year to help resolve issues around footpath access with residents being forced onto the road. This work subsequently exposed substantial damage to the walkways.
“Work has been delayed for a prolonged length of time in order to get planning permission for the proposed tree removal works. As part this scheme, additional trees would be planted once the outstanding issues around footpath damage have been addressed.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “The council takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously with trees only ever removed as a last resort after very careful consideration. Where trees are protected by Tree Preservation Orders, proposals are subject to the planning process.
“The council has received an application from South Tyneside Housing Ventures Trust for tree pruning and removal works where the roots have caused substantial damage to a footpath in Lady’s Walk. This would enable footpath repairs to be carried out as well as to prevent tree branches from further encroaching on to the highway. The proposals will be considered in due course.
“It is also our practice that for every tree removed, replacement trees are planted in the local vicinity.”