People power forces NHS to axe Portsmouth tree-felling plan

Protestors who are trying to stop the felling of trees in the grounds of St James Hospital in Portsmouth Picture Ian Hargreaves  (160832-1)
Protestors who are trying to stop the felling of trees in the grounds of St James Hospital in Portsmouth Picture Ian Hargreaves (160832-1)

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CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after the NHS halted a plan to cut down 50 trees.

Environment activists and residents have been battling Solent NHS Trust over plans to cut down about 50 trees at St James Hospital.

But yesterday the application to Portsmouth City Council – which had 131 registered objections – was withdrawn.

While the NHS could return with a modified scheme, campaigners are hoping the trust will listen to them.

Keep Milton Green campaigner Kimberly Barrett said: ‘There was a lot of public pressure for them to withdraw the application from planning.

‘It feels a bit of a victory that people power has actually won out.’

If the trust had continued and won approval, the scheme would have seen a new service yard and store, along with widening access for emergency vehicles from Locksway Road to the hospital.

Liberal Democrat Ben Dowling, ward member for Milton, added: ‘I’m really pleased that this application has been withdrawn.

‘Hopefully this means the NHS is looking to work closer with the community and to provide an over-arching plan for trees in the area rather than having application after application after application.

‘I’d be happy for no trees to be cut down whatsoever.’

A trust spokesman said: ‘Following objections raised by sections of our community, we have taken the decision to voluntarily withdraw.’

He added the work was deemed necessary as it gives easier access to mental health units retained after a land swap with NHS Property Services two years ago.

He added: ‘However, as the plans for the use of the site are still being considered by the new owners, and so access to our units is not yet of concern, we have decided to hold our application for the widening of the roads and building of the yard.’