A popular green space in Loughborough has been spoilt by the planting of a large group of trees, a councillor has warned.
A number of beech, silver birch and hornbeam saplings were planted in December by members of the town’s Green Gym, a franchise licensed to Charnwood Borough Council, in efforts to plant an additional 100,000 trees across the area, including 550 at Charnwood Water.
Labour councillor Mary Draycott, who represents Hastings ward, said the choice of location at Charnwood Water has limited how the space can be used for recreational activities.
She was also disappointed that there was no consultation with residents or councillors before the trees were planted.
She said: “The first time this planting was known about by local residents or indeed ward councillors was by seeing the work that had taken place by the volunteers.
“No consultation had taken place and it has come as a very unwanted experience by many, judging from the complaints I have received.
“No longer will there be room for activities, with now only a small narrow pathway left, which is very uneven terrain including all the mole hills.”
Some of the saplings and the guards that protect them have already been damaged.
Coun Draycott said: “Another consequence of this quick win by Charnwood Borough Council is the number of trees now damaged, not I believe maliciously but mainly by dogs running, playing and unintentionally damaging the guards and saplings.
“This park is also a well-used walkway from Tuckers Road to Leicester Road and is now a hazard course for many with the winter light.”
Some of the tree saplings planted at Charnwood Water have already been damaged
The Green Gym also planted 250 trees at Gorse Covert as part of the project.
A spokesperson for Charnwood Borough Council said: “The council is committed to improving its open spaces which includes a pledge to see an additional 100,000 trees planted in the borough by 2024.
“Charnwood Water is an important area with a primary purpose of wildlife conservation, biodiversity and environmental education.
“The 550 trees recently planted by volunteers were donated by the Green Gym and has extended existing areas of tree planting.
“The council recognises the site is used by residents for recreational activities and large open-grassed spaces have been left for these activities.
“We’re committed to planting trees in areas with lower than average canopy cover which includes Loughborough Hastings ward.
“Charnwood Water is a site that can positively contribute towards increasing the canopy cover for Loughborough Hastings.”
The authority said that it accepted more information could have been made available but that it is not routine to consult on projects such as this, where “no direct impact is evident.”
The spokesperson said: “The new areas of planting at Charnwood Water are a significant distance from housing and the existing screen of mature trees means there will be little to no visual impact on residents who live in the local area.
“Last year more than 1,000 trees were planted on open space adjacent to Gorse Covert, Loughborough, in a similar setting and a consultation was not carried out for similar reasons.
“It’s disappointing that some of the new trees have already been vandalised, but there is no clear evidence for the reasons or motivations for this criminal damage.
“We will continue to manage and maintain Charnwood Water for the benefit of all visitors and hope we can engage with residents to develop a management plan for the site in the future.”