A ring of ancient trees in a Solihull park have been cut down to make way for a shopping development, despite protests from residents and MP Lorely Burt.
Ms Burt said she was outraged at the destruction of Shirley Park’s trees, which have been felled to make way for the new Parkgate Shopping centre.
Liberal Democrat MP Ms Burt said the removal of the trees was “vandalism”.
“It’s a destruction of a circle of oaks, the mother of which was 300 years old,” she said. “They steam-rolled this development through despite huge objections.
“It’s not good enough and we have lost these historic trees forever.”
Ms Burt has yet to see the cleared site.
“I haven’t the heart to go up there, I’m just too upset,” she said. “The one positive note is that the development will open out at the top end and create a boulevard and one hopes it will invite people to go into the shopping area.”
Solihull’s planning committee voted to allow the destruction of the trees last week, after a report presented by developers Shirley Advance said the oaks were not strong enough to be transposed to new ground.
Former Shirley Councillor Tim Hodgson also condemned the action.
He said: “This was a really valuable community asset and to just lose it virtually overnight is disgraceful.”
Mr Hodgson said he now planned to recreate the oak tree circle. “It’s not compensation really but it’s the best we can get now it’s all gone,” he said.
Robert Birch, of Parkgate developers Shirley Advance, said: “If we’d been able to avoid the trees or been able to relocate them, then we would have done that.
“The reality is that we couldn’t avoid them and they wouldn’t have survived relocation.”
He said they planned to plant a range of semi-mature trees as part of the development. Work on the Parkgate scheme is expected to begin in May and to be completed by Christmas 2013.
Plans include a 500-space basement car park, 20 new shops, an Asda superstore, townhouses and apartments and £500,000 worth of improvements to Shirley Park.