A once leafy suburb has become desert-like after a developer chopped down 180 trees - to build four luxury homes.
That is the claim of Alan Brooks, a resident of nearby Orchard View, Tenterden, who said: “Instead of being Orchard View, people are saying it’s more like desert view.
“Among the trees to go was a beautiful willow and a huge tree by a pond where there’s now just a stump, which must be at least one metre in diameter.
"There were 24 species on the site.
“Trees are valuable as they take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen, they support a variety of wildlife and help to drain water away.
“People walking past are just gobsmacked by what has gone on. They are stunned.
“Nobody wanted this - not the town council or borough council."
Developer Jarvis Homes says it only removed diseased, damaged or non-native species and its scheme was designed around the specimen, or stand out trees on site, which meant there was only space for four homes.
The firm claimed a “job lot” of trees was planted in the area in 2003, destroying the orchard and that management of the woodland was non-existent leading to its poor state.
"It should have never been allowed to happen - all those beautiful trees are gone forever" - Carole Lacey
But anger is rising amongst Shrubcote residents and some had to be removed from the site after confronting the tree surgeons at work, while others were unaware of the plan before the chainsaws moved in.
School cleaner Carole Lacey, 52, said: “I thought the workers were just thinning out the trees to manage them until more and more disappeared.
“It should have never been allowed to happen - all those beautiful trees are gone forever.”
Southgate Road resident Graham Hall said: “People are shocked as no one expected the land to look so barren and you need a green lung in the middle of a town.
“Where there were trees there is just an empty field.
"I don’t know how they (Jarvis Homes) got permission to fell them as it’s supposed to be a conservation area.”
Tree-felling took place throughout July after the planning inspectorate gave the go-ahead despite the objections of the town council and Ashford Borough Council (ABC).
The four detached homes with adjacent garages are to be built in the grounds of the Grade II listed Hales Place, an early 16th century timber-framed L-shaped house, which lies in Tenterden’s conservation area.
But the inspector ruled the houses were far enough away from the historic building and screened by trees so would not damage its aspect.
Mature and “better quality” trees would be preserved and more trees planted, while the area was said to only contain “common habitat types”.
Tenterden Town Council said it had been contacted by worried residents who were concerned that the developer had overstepped the mark with the felling, but its investigation revealed no breach of the conditions.
Deputy town clerk Claire Gilbert said: “We have been liaising with residents and ABC over concerns raised with the removal of trees at the development site.
“The site was visited by an ABC inspector and we have received confirmation that no breach in planning control has taken place.
"The town council had objected to this development in 2016 and 2017 on the grounds that it was ‘a historic estate, lying within Tenterden’s conservation area, and as such should be protected’.
"ABC had refused planning permission, but permission was granted on appeal to the planning inspectorate."
A spokesman for Jarvis Homes said: “We have worked very hard with our own tree specialist and Ashford Borough Council’s tree officer to preserve the specimen trees and remove damaged and diseased trees.
“In 2003, the orchard on the site was destroyed by a previous landowner who planted a job lot of trees of a variety of species.
"They were planted too close together and a lot of them were fighting for space and not surviving well.
"Under normal forestry management a lot of them would have been already cut down.
“We dropped down the number of homes from the 14 originally planned to four to avoid losing any specimen trees.”
The spokesman added that ecological mitigation was taking place on site including enhancing the wetland area and pond and adding bat boxes and that the tree debris had been turned into biomass.
He said that Jarvis Homes was a Tenterden-based company, employing craftspeople from the town and sourcing much of its building materials from the area, while the style of the new homes would be vernacular to Tenterden.