COLCHESTER Council has issued a blanket tree protection order in the north of the town where more than 2,000 homes are due to be built.

The order has been issued for the North Growth Area Urban Extension, 100 hectares of green space between the A12, Nayland Road and Mile End Road, where 2,200 homes are set to be built by 2021.

The move comes after residents called for trees, particularly in an area called Chesterwell Wood, to be protected.

Martin Goss, Lib Dem Mile End borough councillor, said the order had come into force immediately.

The council would start looking at every tree and shrub and deciding which ones deserved protection.

Mr Goss added: “It will take about six months, so this initial blanket order prevents anything from being done until we have looked at each tree.

“It might be they find that some trees, such as a leylandii or something like that, don’t need to have orders on them, but it will protect the older trees – such as the oaks – and also those in Chesterwell Wood.

“None of those can be touched now. Every single tree is protected and it means the council retains control from developers, preventing them from going in and pulling up trees without permission.

“This is what the residents said they wanted, so it is good news.”

Lyn Barton, councillor responsible for planning, sustainability and the environment, said: “Issuing a tree preservation order is an important step for the North Growth Area Urban Extension.

“It will ensure the area maintains its character, and that trees and wildlife in the area continue to thrive.

“We do listen and respond to the needs of our residents and we know they are keen for us to help preserve this area of the borough.”

But Liz Gray, chairman of Myland Parish Council, which has long been vocal about securing the future of the wood, was cautious about the order.

She feared the announcement was a “sop” to prevent complaints when construction work goes ahead.

Mrs Gray said: “After so many years of being on the parish council, I am cynical.

“In theory, it should protect the whole of Chesterwell Wood, but I fear it is just a sop so we won’t notice what they are doing.”