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Plans for new Wickes store in Canterbury scrapped after row over felling trees

Plans for Wickes to move into a former Homebase site have fallen through after people objected to a bid to chop down a dozen healthy trees.

More than 100 people lodged objections against the DIY retailer’s proposals to fell mature London Planes on the Wincheap Industrial Estate in Canterbury .

It would have been the eighth Wickes in Kent
It would have been the eighth Wickes in Kent

The controversial proposals , which would have made the store more visible from the road, were part of Wickes’ scheme to open a new branch in the unit in Cow Lane.

The city council had been in advanced negotiations with the firm and the company had applied for planning permission for some alterations to the site, which included removing some trees.

Members of the authority's planning committee discussed the proposals at a virtual meeting last month, where rules on the legality of the tree felling were eventually made clear.

In the application, Wickes had clearly highlighted a number of trees were to be felled.

It was established the firm would have needed to submit further applications to gain permission to uproot the long-standing London Planes.

Plans show how the new Wickes store would have looked
Plans show how the new Wickes store would have looked

But this resulted in a local campaign to retain the trees and the planning committee approved the application - but not the felling.

Now bosses at Wickes have confirmed that not being able to remove the trees means they no longer want to go ahead with the deal.

A statement from the city council said: "Clearly this is a complex and sensitive issue. On the one hand, the rental income from having a tenant in the building would have been very helpful at a time when our finances are perilous, and it would have provided a good boost to the local economy.

"On the other, people were concerned about the trees, and we understand that.

"We are, though, still keen to see this site occupied and will work with local people to try and find a solution."

Wickes wanted to cut down the avenue of trees
Wickes wanted to cut down the avenue of trees

It continued: "It is in a prime location that is popular with shoppers, and we want to avoid it becoming permanently vacant and a blight to the area.

"We very much hope we can find a tenant for whom the trees will not be a concern, and that this key site will once again be back in use."

Wincheap is classed by the council as “an area of concern” for pollution and the heavily congested suburb is deemed the worst zone in the district for levels of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions.

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