A GERMAN supermarket chain has hit back at claims that it felled a protected tree in Linthorpe after buying the site.

Lidl has reassured people that it has not cut down any trees that had a tree preservation order (TPO) since it bought the former Northern School of Art campus.

Protestors were concerned that one of the trees which was destroyed had a TPO.

A spokesperson for Lidl said: “We are pleased to confirm that we hope to bring a new Lidl store to the Linthorpe community following the purchase of the former Northern School of Art site on Green Lane.

“We would like to take the opportunity to provide reassurance that no trees with a preservation order have been felled since we acquired the site.

“Whilst some work has been carried out with support from an independent arboriculturist, we will be proposing a comprehensive planting scheme to mitigate the initial loss of any existing vegetation.

“We look forward to sharing our plans with the local community and closely consulting residents ahead of submitting a planning application.”

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The Northern Echo: The former Northern School of Art campus on Green Lane where trees have been cut down Credit: Terry Blackburn / Teesside Live Permission for use by all LDR partners

On Monday, November 8, Mayor Andy Preston said that he did not believe a Lidl store was a good fit for the area.

He added: “I don’t think that this is the right location for a supermarket in Linthorpe – but that’s for discussion after we clarify the tree situation.

“Lidl tell me that their tree experts removed only unprotected trees from the site. Council staff are working hard to check if this is correct.

“I have asked that the company’s UK boss Mr Christian Härtnagel visits and talks to residents.

“The site’s previous owners Northern School of Art were legally prohibited from disclosing that Lidl had bought the site.

“It seems to me that the supermarket chain was going to keep their purchase quiet for the time being but the controversy about the trees has forced their hand.”

Protestors, who went down to the site on Saturday, November 6, were angry at the destruction of the trees.

The Northern Echo: Diane McLernon has been protesting against the felling of the trees at the former Northern School of Art campus in Linthorpe. To note - I took the photograph from the pavement but the protesters are stood on private land Credit: LDRS Permission f

Linthorpe resident Diane McLernon was a former student and employee of the art college.

Read more: Middlesbrough residents shocked as trees cut down in community

She said: “They have just been decimated. I am absolutely incandescent with rage, I feel really upset.

“I have sat here myself as a student and I have sat with students, drawing those trees and photographing the trees. We have sat under those trees having picnics and sharing nice times together.

“And to see the loss of habitat as well, you have got tiny little ecosystems, you’ve got finches, robins, and blackbirds, there is lots of wildlife that depend on those trees and now it’s all gone.

“It really upsets me to think that we should be protecting our environment, not decimating it.”

The Northern Echo: Linthorpe Labour councillor Philippa Storey at the former Northern School of Art campus on Green Lane where trees have been cut down Credit: Terry Blackburn / Teesside Live Permission for use by all LDR partners

Last week, Linthorpe councillor Philippa Storey said that she would like to see the council given more power over the town’s trees.

Mrs Storey said: “I would absolutely love it if the council had more control over which trees were being cut down and which trees couldn’t be cut down.

“I think there needs to be an overhaul of how tree preservation orders are issued.

“That’s the only way the council can do it legally and there needs to be sea change at national government level so trees can be protected more easily.”

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