PLANNERS have been warned to help avoid another public outcry over the felling of mature and protected trees to make way for a development of detached homes.

Green campaigners have issued the alert to Darlington Borough Council ahead of its planning committee considering a proposal chop down 85 trees, more than a dozen of which are protected, to build 18 three-bedroom and 12 four-bedroom homes at Mowden Hall, Staindrop Road.

The protected trees include Scots pine, lime, redwood, yew and sycamores.

The warning comes a year after Darlington residents expressed their anger as numerous trees were cut down on the former Blackwell golf course to make way for a 59-home development.

Despite the loss of trees being stated in public consultations, many residents said they had been shocked by the scale of the fellings.

Ahead of next week’s planning meeting, a Darlington Friends of the Earth spokesman said: “I am sure the council and the developer is keen to avoid another Blackwell scenario in terms of tree loss here.”

One objector, resident Stephen Race said the Scots pine trees provided “a magnificent natural statement to the area and are enjoyed by both the local population and birds and animals alike...”

An officers’ report to the committee said due to the large number of trees on the two-hectare site which was once home to the Department for Education offices it would be difficult to develop the site without the loss of some trees.

It states: “While the removal of protected trees is never ideal in this instance it is considered that, on balance, there are circumstances which would warrant the removal of these trees.”

Officers, who have recommended the scheme for approval, said benefits of felling the trees included creating an area of open space and new public viewpoints of the listed building Mowden Hall.

A spokesman for the developer said it would undertake a comprehensive landscaping scheme.

He added: “An existing mature tree line defines the boundary and provides a buffer zone between the site and the surrounding houses to the north, east and west.

“It is proposed that the majority of this tree belt will be retained where possible.”