A move to replace a mature tree with two hanging baskets has been roundly criticised by a former cabinet minister.

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The application to build 29 one and two bedroom in School Yard West Car Park, off Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, for Havebury Housing was approved in July 2013.The scheme included the replacement of a London plane tree on Nelson Road with two new trees. But now the developers behind the scheme have returned to planners claiming that due to the need to reroute power cables and pipes, the trees could set the firm back as much as £50,000. They also claim the resulting work by UK Network Power and BT Open Reach would result in a lengthy road closure causing further disruption to those living nearby.

In documents submitted to St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Gary Johns Architects, state: “Whilst the cost of the additional work is not necessarily a planning consideration, we feel that the expense and disruption is disproportionate to the value of the two new trees.”

A spokesman said their proposal of alternative landscaping, which would include two hanging baskets has received support from Bury in Bloom.

However the application has already come under fire from Sir John Wheeler, who served as security minister for Northern Ireland under John Major. Sir John, who lives close to the development, said a “clear commitment” had been made regarding the provision of trees. He added: “The suggestion that living trees can be exchanged for hanging baskets or permanent planters is not acceptable.” Sir John, who urged for the application to be dismissed, said “good developers will have contingency funding.”

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