A housing developer has been refused permission to chop down a swathe of trees in the town of Shipley, West Yorkshire as council officers say the plans show a “bias” against poplar trees.

Bradford Council has refused plans by Skipton Properties to fell over a dozen trees and trim or prune many others near its development at Crag Road, known as The Exchange.

The company had submitted an arboricultural plan to Bradford Council, detailing how it planned to carry out tree works over five years.

The report, written in 2016, details the different trees found on the site, near Shipley Rail Station, and suggests what works are needed to help facilitate the development.

It says that if work is not done, the trees could become “potentially hazardous” and that many would “impede the glow of street lamps”.

The report says new saplings would be planted to replace a number of the felled trees.

It calls for work to be done to reduce the size of a number of poplar trees on the site, describing poplars as “a brittle species” and saying “many of the trees are within falling distance of the road and an adjacent building. This tree requires reduction work in order to make it safe for its surroundings”.

Many poplars on the site would be reduced in size by a third or removed.

However, the application for tree works, submitted in May, has now been refused by Bradford Council. The authority’s tree experts raised several concerns about the conclusions made in the report. In particular it claims the conclusion about poplars was “a reflection of the author’s bias against the species rather than any arboricultural merit”.

Council officer Elizabeth McLaughlin claimed the works would damage the amenity of the site - which was prominent in the Shipley and Windhill area.

The decision to refuse the plans says: “The removal of the vast majority of trees in this area, even though phased over five years, will have a significant impact on the amenity of the area. Even though a number of trees are proposed to be planted and natural regeneration encouraged, it will be decades before the same impact the current treescape provides is achieved and in any case the applicant is not the landowner so replacement planting cannot be guaranteed.

“The complete destruction of a protected tree to clear a street lamp is a heavy handed approach and not one which is supported by the Council.

“As three years have lapsed between the work being recommended and any work being carried out it is considered that the proposals cannot be considered to be as urgently necessary as indicated in the initial report.

“While it is clearly stated that one of the aims is ‘to reduce the population of dense poplars, ridding the area of its poplar population entirely based on them being ‘a brittle species’ is not considered by the Council to be a sound arboricultural conclusion to come to. It appears that the requirement to remove or destroy all the poplars including natural regeneration is a conclusion that has been arrived at more as a reflection of the author’s bias against the species rather than for any reasons of arboricultural merit. The work would diminish the sylvan character of the area, there is no specific reason given to justify the work and therefore the application is refused.

“The Council consider that the loss of the trees would be highly damaging on the character and amenity of the area and although a replacement planting scheme is recommended, it would take decades for this to have the same contribution.”

Sarah Barraclough, MD for Skipton Properties, said: “We commissioned specialist arboricultural & ecological consultants to advise on the long-term management of these particular trees, after health and safety concerns on site during high winds.

"We were advised that the trees were all approaching their end of life expectancy, so our request to the council was to prevent this tree line from disappearing in the long-term, by planting more diverse species of trees now in order to provide longevity and protect local wildlife.

"We will now continue our plans as before, around the current tree stock.”

This story first appeared in the Telegraph and Argus.