Drone footage shows destruction of nearly 2,000 trees at popular forest to make way for £54.5m road

The road is set to be complete by summer 2024
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Incredible drone footage shows the part destruction of a popular forest in Northampton to make way for a £54.5million road and thousands of new homes.

Nearly 2,000 trees were felled at Harlestone Firs, close to the Lodge Way Industrial Estate, over the course of six weeks in November 2022. According to developers and West Northants Council (WNC), the felling of the trees was undertaken to accommodate the new Harlestone Grange/Dallington Grange housing estate and the multi-million pound North West Relief Road (NWRR).

Thanks to drone footage from media company airthreemedia, residents are now able to see what the aftermath of the felling at the firs looks like from above. The footage, linked to this story, shows a completely flattened section of Harlestone Firs next to the relatively new housing estate in York Way.

Developers have promised that approximately 8,000 native trees and shrubs will be replanted. WNC has been contacted by this newspaper to see when that process will begin.

Background

In February 2021, despite hundreds of objections from residents, the now defunct Northampton Borough Council granted planning permission for up to 3,000 homes, a secondary school, two primary schools, 7.2 hectares of employment land, a local centre, the redevelopment of Grange Farm for a pub/restaurant/cafe or hotel, the extension of the North West bypass (NWRR), and open space on land between Harlestone Firs and Kings Heath.

The latest update regarding Dallington Grange is councillors have criticised plans for what they called a ‘ghetto’ of 100 affordable homes in the housing estate.

Duston resident Maureen Biseker previously said the felling of trees at the Firs is an ‘absolute disgrace’.

Ms Biseker said: “We, the public, have signed petition after petition for many years against the relief road, and against Harlestone Firs being destroyed but as always we are not listened to. We never will be listened to as our opinions are not important to the planners. Money talks and it always will. Trees will be planted, they say, but it will never be the same, much of our precious wildlife will be killed on this road. Very sad."

Campaigners from Local Research, based in Northampton, also heavily criticised the plans. A Local Research spokesman previously told Chron and Echo: “The lives of people around Kingsthorpe, Dallington and Harlestone will be impacted for the next 10-15 years, furthermore, objections to the development have been completely ignored from 2014 to present day. Developer profit outweighs local best interests and needs.

"Questions remain unanswered over how this project progressed with such little scrutiny and who is accountable for the large-scale tree removal within Harlestone Firs to facilitate a developer access road.”

In response, Stuart Timmiss, WNC’s executive director for place, previously said the private land belongs to the Althorp Estate and is being prepared for a section of the NWRR which was approved in planning. He added that the trees on Harlestone Firs aren't protected, so no planning permission was needed for their removal, and that reports were done to address ecological concerns, ensuring more trees are planted than removed.