ANGRY Romsey residents have slammed plans to chop down a tree, claiming a road would be built in its place to link to agricultural land.

Residents believe it is “totally unnecessary” to create a route from Scoreys Crescent leading to Ganger Farm when there are already two other access points to the land.

Now one critic of the controversial plans has said it could be “illegal” for Barratt and David Wilson Homes Southampton to axe the oak tree on Monday, June 15, if there is evidence bats live in the habitat.

However, development director for Barratt Homes, Julian Jones, hit back at the claims stressing they were already given planning permission to “remove two trees on the boundary of Ganger Farm”, to build a track into the owners’ land.

Sheila Floyd, who lives in Scoreys Crescent, said: “On Friday, June 5, we received an email from Barratt and David Wilson Homes Southampton telling us they were going to fell the tree on Monday and they could start work on the road on Monday, June 22.

“It seems they want to put an access road going from Scoreys Crescent where the tree is, which will run to Ganger Farm, but there is already access to it through a private road leading from Ganger Farm Lane and off of Jermyns Lane.

“This could mean the new road may improve the developer’s chances of selling the remaining agricultural land for future development.

“If the road is put in it will pose a significant health and safety risk to residents, especially as there are young families with children who play outside and the machinery would be coming so close to the houses.”

She added: “It is an extremely beautiful tree that could be hundreds of years old and could be home to a whole range of wildlife.

“We did an independent bat survey on Tuesday, which has cost £76 between myself and a group of neighbours, and if there are bats present in the tree then it is illegal to chop it down, but we have not yet had the full report back from that survey.”

Fellow resident Kathryn Hartwell, 30, said: “What really frustrates and angers me is the developers are looking to build a road to nowhere to access a field when there are already two other roads they can use.

“The work will disrupt everyone on the estate with the heavy farming machinery passing our houses and the fact they are looking to fell a mature oak tree, which is the symbol of Barratt Homes, is a shame.”

Another neighbour, David Faria, 30, added: “It is a terrible shame because it is a beautiful tree and I cannot see any reason why it needs to come out.

“The fact there are already two access roads to the land and they want to provide a third is totally unnecessary.”

Jade Souch, who also lives in Scoreys Crescent, said: “When we moved here we were aware there could be a road built at the end of the development, however we did not know agricultural machinery would be going along it.

“We have concerns about our one-year-old boy playing outside, because the machinery may overhang into our garden which is adjacent to where the road would go.”

Residents have contacted wildlife expert, Chris Packham, and Hampshire Wildlife Trust in a move to stop the felling.

Mr Jones said: “Barratt was granted planning permission on December 5 2018 to remove two trees on the boundary of Ganger Farm to enable it to fulfil its contractual obligation to build a vehicular access into the owners’ retained land.

“Unbeknown to us, a request was submitted to Test Valley Borough Council to create a TPO on the trees in question, which was confirmed 16th March 2020.

“In accordance with planning legislation the council has confirmed that in such a situation the planning consent takes precedent over the TPO, therefore we intend to commence the lawful removal of the trees on Monday (15th June).

“Furthermore, our ecological consultants have surveyed the trees for bird and bat activity and their findings have been made available to affected parties.”

He added: “As an organisation Barratt always seek to retain trees on our developments and with the new planting along the Jermyns Lane boundary there is a significant enhancement to the number of trees on the development from its former use.”

A spokesperson from Barratt Homes added an “ecological survey revealed there was no evidence of nesting birds or bat roosts” in the tree, however they added “the ecologists will re-survey on Monday” before work is due to begin.