Last Thursday Ashall Projects, the Developers for the Councils Centre Square project, chain sawed trees from around Wilkinson lake and the surrounding park land. Remaining logs and wood chip were hauled off to the empty Phase one building site (the old registry building site) where no work has yet started.
“Cutting down the trees at this time, well before any work has even started on Phase one of the project, is just malicious robbing the people of Middlesbrough of what was a lovely pond well used by the public” said Friends of the Earth Co-ordinator Robert Tucker. “It’s a stitch-up, the Council said these New offices were vital to bring new jobs to Mbro, but almost all of Phase 1 will be the Council moving in - hardly any new jobs at all. Real work on Phase 2 may be months or years away and was only supposed to start after companies had been found to take up rooms, but they have vandalised this public space. The birdlife is bewildered and shocked. The public meantime can enjoy tree stumps instead of lovely green trees in the showpiece centre of our town. To say people are angry is an understatement”.
A compromise plan was proposed by Friends of the Earth saving Wilkinson lake and the trees there from being turned into a private underground car park. The New Offices could use half of the car spaces behind Mima and other spaces instead. This was turned down by the Council.
The controversial development deal meant that Middlesbrough Council gave the land in Centre Square, worth millions, to developers Ashall Projects for free if they built the New offices.