A council contractor has apologised after starting tree removal work early as part of a controversial development of 46 affordable homes.

The plans on Wensley Road include cutting down 175 trees, which will later be replaced, but the developer began the tree removal prior to receiving approval.

After residents raised concerns, the council told the contractor to stop further works and the contractor apologised to the council and concerned residents.

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A Coley Park Residents’ Group spokesman said: “RBC were fully aware of the start date and should have ensured the discharge of planning conditions was completed. We have not received any response from RBC to our emails or an apology.

“Had residents not questioned the works, RBC would have rushed through with their plans regardless of the harm caused to the environment, and without meeting their own legal process once again.

“Yet another wrong-doing in a long list as regards this application and development.”

The council says it is “satisfied that no harm resulted to local wildlife as a result of the works that took place”.

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A spokesman for Reading Borough Council (RBC) said: “The local planning authority, following proper consideration of the contractor’s submission, shall issue the necessary pre-commencement condition approvals, which will enable the contractor to return to site and continue with its preparatory works.

“It should also be noted that a key part of the planning agreement is that the developer will replace all trees which need to be felled as part of these works on at least a one-to-one basis and that those replacement trees would be planted on the application site if possible, but if not elsewhere within Minster Ward.”

Wensley Road plans

Wensley Road plans

Six councillors on the council’s Planning Applications committee voted for the affordable housing plans on Wensley Road, with four voting against, back in August 2020.

Concerns were raised over the loss of 60 per cent of public open space, the removal of play facilities and overpopulation in the area.