Uproar after Hanley ‘urban woodland’ felled by developer


City leaders have ordered a developer to stop chopping down trees after an “urban woodland” was felled as part of a housing scheme.

Trees at the former Century Oils site in Hanley were felled on March 31. Local residents said the brownfield site was “abundant with wildlife” and are distraught at its loss.

The developer, Bluefield Sandbach, said it was advised by an ecologist and that no laws or conditions were broken.

But Stoke-on-Trent City Council said they’ve ordered the work to stop. Staffordshire Police confirmed they had looked into it, too.

Residents claim the trees were felled during nesting season, and that they’d seen a dead owl nearby soon after.

Rebecca Davies of the Portland Inn community project that is based nearby, said: “It’s not just some trees, it’s an old brownfield site that has become an inner-city woodland.



From left: Rebecca Davies, Kacey Charlesworth-Hayes aged six, Joey Lyamgohn aged five and Jusmen Lyamgohn aged nine outside the former Century Oils site where an urban woodland was cut down by a developer

“In the planning application there is a condition that clearly states that any clearing of those trees doesn’t take place during nesting season.

“Really swiftly, the felling began on March 31, the height of nesting season. And the condition was that no clearing take place between March and August, which is nesting season.

“There was no signs put up, no communication from the developer of what was about to take place – which is really disappointing.

“A couple of days after, a dead owl was spotted a few streets away.



Century Oils site from Century Street in October 2020

“There were all sorts of animals on the site, hedgehogs, birds, owls, squirrels, frogs, newts and ducks. It’s abundant with wildlife.”

Brothers Joey and Jusmen LyamGohn, who live nearby, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, were also disappointed by the loss of the trees.

Jusmen, aged nine, said: “It was sudden, very sudden. The day it got cleared we just saw the trees going down. If there was no trees there would be no humans.”

Joey, aged five, said: “It was sad, really sad.”

Rebecca has since reported the issue to Staffordshire Police’s Wildlife Crime Team and Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s planning department.



The former Century Oils site in Hanley, residents have complained about the woodland being felled to make way for 319 new homes

A statement from the developer said: “Bluefield are currently in the process of clearing the site of self-setting trees and vegetation that has become established over recent years while the site has been dormant. The work has been carried out in the presence of a fully qualified Ecologist in order to ensure that no trees are removed where there is a presence of nesting birds, and no harm is caused to any wildlife on the site. The works being carried out do not require planning permission.

“Despite the rumours regarding a dead owl spotted close to the site there has been no evidence of any owl activity on the site and Bluefield’s Ecologist has confirmed that the vegetation is not suitable or usual for owls.

“The site clearance works are due to be completed by Friday, April 16. In due course Bluefield will commence detailed ground investigation works and site remediation, prior to implementing the planning permission for housing.

“A legal agreement (under S106 of the Planning Act) which will be tied to the planning permission is currently being prepared.”

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “We’ve been looking into the matter and the developer has been working closely with an ecologist. The ecologist has advised the developer regarding what action can be taken so as not to harm wildlife.”

A city council spokesman said: “We’re aware of work that has taken place on the site and we’ve advised the landowner to cease all operations. Staffordshire Police are investigating to see if any offences have been committed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and we are working closely with them. We’ve also been in touch with the Forestry Commission who have told us they will carry out a site visit as soon as possible.”

Bluefield Sandbach was given outline planning permission to build 319 homes including affordable housing in November 2020.





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