Back in February 2023 residents in Wellingborough heard the shocking news that local developers were about to fell up to 61 protected trees from the historic Wellingborough Walks, an avenue of limes trees that stretches from the town centre to the river, with many trees more than 180 years old.
Residents, local councillors, community groups, faith groups and businesses were dismayed at this act of civic and environmental vandalism to one of the towns most historic natural assets. Within days the community quickly mobilised and managed to block the felling of up to 45 trees, although we sadly lost 16 protected trees which has left a massive scar on 'the Walks'
In March 2023, a temporary pause to the felling was agreed and this was extended to the end of the bird nesting season on 31st July 2023.
In mid March campaigners fighting to make the 'pause' permanent came together and set up Wellingborough Walks Action Group Ltd (WWAG Ltd), a not for profit company limited by Guarantee, one main purpose of which is to take action to permanently save the protected trees from 'the Walks' in Wellingborough.
March also saw campaigners launch the first Crowdfunder to help save the trees and we were delighted and astounded to receive more than £12,000 towards the legal action we felt would be necessary.
Within weeks these funds were added to and we were able to find a very experienced legal team to help us explore our options, and test our legal case. With this clarity we took the case forward and began the legal process, issuing a pre-action protocol letter to the local Council (North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) and the Developer on 10th May and, after no response, lodging for Judicial Review on 18th May.
It has always been our intension to help create a practical solution, with both the Council and Developer to save the trees, so we requested a pause (a 'stay') on the Judicial review claim to allow time for technical discussions to explore if minor changes could be made which would save the trees and still mean the planned roundabout changes could happen.
We meet with the Council and the Developer on 19th May, where the Developer proposed to meet to have these discussions and committed to extend the 'pause' on the tree felling till after the end of the nesting season to allow time for these.
However, we heard on Friday (2nd June), the Developer had done an 'about-turn' and no longer believed discussions would be fruitful. The Judge from the High Court however, has since instructed that some form of out of court discussion must happen by 23rd June, as he feels if all parties bring their best endeavours, an out of court agreement could be achieved. We also believe and hope this could be possible.
However, if these discussions are not fruitful we could well be going to Court to make our case, if the Judge believes our case is strong enough.
With your help we have managed to raise more than £25,000 so far, which is absolutely amazing and we thank each any person and group for your contribution!! But legal process is an extremely costly business and we are going to need more financial support if we need to go to Court.
We have so far spent about £17,000 getting to this stage in the legal process (about half way through), and have about £8,000 is left in the pot. To go all the way to Court could cost a up to a further £20,000. We need your support and the support of the whole community and beyond to help raise these funds.
We have come so far, and the legal team feel we have a good case to challenge the Council and the Developer. There are no guarantees though that we would be successful, but we all feel its extremely important that we, the residents, community and businesses of Wellingborough do everything we can on to safeguard this historic community and natural asset for all of us now and into the future.
Many of us regularly walk 'the Walks' and along the Embankment and we can't imagine the Embankment or the end of London Rd without them. You only need to pop down to the Embankment and see the trees in all their glory, beautiful, green, strong, a haven for nature, wildlife......and us. And see what 'the Walks' look like with out them (after the 16 we lost), to understand why it is so important that we do everything we can on 'our watch' to save them and ensure the voices of the trees and the people of our Town and beyond are heard.
Please contribute what you can, a few pounds or hundreds of pounds, all are gratefully received, and all will be used to SAVE OUR TREES.
If you wish to donate in other ways please contact us (WWAG Ltd) via our website which is https://saveourtrees.co.uk/
Thank you xx