A CULL of almost 100 trees is “necessary” to allow for a development in Grahame Park to go ahead according planning bosses.

Contractors began the pruning and felling process on a line of trees in Lanacre Avenue, yesterday morning, much to the outrage of residents.

They claim they were shocked to see work beginning on the Avenue, adding the work will have a detrimental effect on the aesthetics of the area.

One neighbour, Peter Lavelle-Maurice, said: “We didn't know anything about it and I was absolutely shocked.

“Some of them are mature trees and when we look out of the window it's the only bit of green we see.

“Now they are cutting them down, it is going to ruin it. If I wasn't going away, I would have tied myself to the tree and tried to make them stop.”

But Barnet Council said the trees being taken down are within the Grahame Park open space and are part of the approved first phase, phase 1A, of the estate regeneration.

Officers said a substantial number of trees are required to be removed to “facilitate the development”, as the first stage of works include the re-landscaping and improvement of the park.

They also said residents were consulted on all of the applications for Phase 1A and issued assurances that 95 trees will be replanted to replace the 94 being removed.

In total 168 new trees are due to be planted during the first phase to “create strong avenues using single species tree planting”.

Construction on the £800 million regeneration scheme, which will provide 3,000 new homes by 2027, began last Monday. The first 319 new homes will be built by 2012 at a cost of £56.4 million.

As part of the work, Choices for Grahame Park, which is part of Genesis Housing Group, will upgrade the open space and the ponds will be remodelled to include features such as water-edge decks and bridges.

Councillor Richard Cornelius, cabinet member for community services, said: “This is great news for Grahame Park in which we begin radical improvements for everyone who lives on the estate.”