A CONTENTIOUS tree preservation order (TPO) has been granted at a Chepstow housing estate after developers failed to comply with an agreement with the council.

Control of an area of overgrown woodland near Bayfield was supposed to be transferred from Persimmon Homes to Monmouthshire County Council.

The agreement said maintenance would be carried out at the council’s expense, so long as the housebuilder paid a commuted sum.

A shot of Woolpitch Wood from 2011. Pic: Google

But officers say Persimmon Homes has refused to comply, meaning the land in Woolpitch Wood remains in their ownership.

Conservative councillor David Dovey described Persimmon Homes’ actions as a “real disgrace” at a Monmouthshire County Council planning committee meeting last week.

“Once Persimmon Homes had built the houses then they had virtually no intention at all of honouring the agreement,” he said.

“I think it’s a real disgrace because it brings about different views within the community. It causes a lot of contention and I am worried about that.”

Conservative councillor for St Kingsmark, David Dovey

Rob Tranter, the council’s head of legal services, told councillors that the authority could resort to legal action against Persimmon Homes – but only as a last resort.

He said: “The council would have to write to Persimmon to find out what their intentions are, if that hasn’t been done already. The final solution would be that the council could commence litigation. Frankly, for a piece of land like this, I don’t know whether the council would want to do that.”

But Cllr Dovey said: “I think it is time that a line was drawn in the sand. I don’t think we as a council should be taken advantage of in this matter.”

Mr Tranter, in response, said the council had not been taken advantage of as liability for maintenance of the land remained with Persimmon Homes.

But Lib Dem councillor Jez Becker said: “It’s the thin edge of the wedge for them trying to cut corners, eroding the trust we’re supposed to have with them as a developer and as a council.”

The TPO, which was unanimously approved, drew three objections from Bayfield residents who said the unkept trees had no value and posed a health and safety risk.

The meeting heard that the trees would not be subject to a TPO in isolation but provided a “very pleasing visual aspect” as a group.

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes said after the meeting: “We have been made aware that we are the legal owners of two small parcels of land at this site in Bayfield, while other areas of the site have been handed back to the council. These areas have now been added to our maintenance work schedule to ensure they are correctly managed moving forward.”