Fears for Ampthill Park as tree felling begins

Ampthill Park.
Ampthill Park.

Furious Ampthill residents have accused council contractors of “raping” the town’s famous park by chopping down hundreds of mature trees.

The town council is spending thousands of pounds in lottery funding to restore the park to its former Capability Brown glory but works, which started this month, have upset neighbours.

Ampthill’s TV Internet Forum is awash with angry comments – with some even claiming that Capability Brown never visited the town let alone designed the rambling park.

Trees - mostly silver birch that have sprung up in the last 250 years - are being pulled up to restore views and create acid grassland habitats in the rambling park where Henry VIII once hunted for deer.

The park later became famous around the world as the burial place for the golden hare in the Kit Williams treasure hunt “Masquerade”.

But now huge piles of chopped down trees can be seen along the outskirts. Many more have signs painted on them marking them out for the lumberjacks’ attention.

Timmy Toad posted: “The rape of Ampthill Park has started. It is a crime what they have done.

Scrabbler fumed: “I despair!! Who in their right mind thought this up?”

And Busy Lady raged: “It is going to look awful. Where will all the creatures go when their habitat is destroyed.”

But Ampthill Town Council park development manager Gary Quilter told the T&C that the works have been carefully thought out.

“I understand and appreciate people’s concerns whenever trees are being removed but it is for the benefit of the park,” he said.

“There is a responsibility to manage it in the best way possible and the council has worked with professionals and experts.”

He said veteran lime, chestnut and oak trees will remain in place and more will be planted.

A walk is being held at the park tonight (Thursday) from 6pm to 7pm when people can find out more about the works. Meet in the park’s West Car Park.