Tree campaign shows the need for balance

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.

Redevelopment of any area, such as a town centre, generally comes at a cost of one sort of another, with the conundrum often being how to get the balance right between preserving something from the past with providing something new for the future.

That’s exactly the case in Bedlington, where the discount supermarket chain Lidl plans to build a new store that many local people will see as a welcome addition to the retail offer in the town, as well as bringing 40 new jobs.

The conundrum in this particular case is that standing in the way of the development, on the site of the old day care centre, off Schalksmuhle Road, is a much loved mature weeping willow tree.

The planners, whilst recognising the positive contribution the tree makes as a visual amenity in a built-up area, recommended that the social and economic benefits the new store will bring outweigh arguments for retaining the tree.

On the other side of the coin, local people believe the tree is too good to lose and are fighting to keep it.

The planners have suggested a compromise to take some cuttings from the tree before it is removed so that they can be planted elsewhere on the site, or given to local people to plant around Bedlington town centre.

My personal view is that I support local people in their efforts to retain the willow tree and I will be speaking to the county council, urging it to do whatever it can to ensure that happens.