City should sue over demise of oak tree

Oak Tree in intu Milton Keynes
Oak Tree in intu Milton Keynes

A city alderman who once saw off Richard Branson is urging his council to take legal action over the death of the Midsummer oak tree.

Former councillor Roger Bristow believes the shopping centre developers should be forced to stump up in court for allowing the tree to die.

He was chairman of planning 25 years ago when an application for the site was received from the Virgin boss.

“Richard Branson wanted to build a shopping centre in Midsummer Place . But we, the councillors, put our foot down and refused his plans unless he could retain the tree,” said Mr Bristow.

Councillors had already insisted a preservation order be placed on the rare great oak.

“When Mr Branson understood we were not going to give in he went away,” said Mr Bristow.

Later another developer was granted planning permission for the complex, but there was a strict proviso that the great oak be preserved.

“I clearly remember how strongly this point was made,” said Mr Bristow.

The tree started deteriorating soon after Midsummer Place opened. Builders have claimed it drowned because vital drainage pipes were removed during the construction work.

Last week the complex’s new owner Intu officially announced the oak was dead. Just days ays later it unveiled a lucrative, multi million pound plan to replace it with a restaurant and cinema.

Said Mr Bristow: “If the builders’ claims are correct then I will insist that legal action is now taken by Milton Keynes council against those concerned in the demise of this tree, which was part of our city’s heritage.”

He has this week written to the council planning boss. A council spokesman said his request was being “examined very closely.”