A GROUP of angry residents have voiced their frustration over the removal of a corridor of trees in Central Maitland.
Maitland Greens and Maitland Heritage Guardians banded together in protest over the vegetation and tree felling, which was part of the construction of the multi-million dollar Maitland Regional Athletics Centre.
They raised concerns over the loss of habitat and green space.
Heritage Guardians founder Chris Richards criticised Maitland City Council for removing the green corridor on High Street.
"To remove these trees council should have undertaken and submitted a DA Amendment, a statement of environmental effects, a qualified arborist report, a flora and fauna study and a statement of Heritage impact," he said.
"Maitland Council's lack of support towards heritage and tree preservation is grossly negligent of what the community want and expect.
"They have developed into a council that is totally pro development and squeeze in as many properties as possible to increase the rate income. This of course is of a great cost to the community's health, wellbeing and lifestyles."
The sports hub will be an all-weather athletics complex of international standard, a 600-seat grandstand and a 10-lane synthetic running track. It is viewed by council as a quality addition to the city that will complement the recently renovated No.1 Sportsground.
"This area was one of our very last wildlife refuges. It was full of wildlife," local resident Bob Dennerley said.
"It's outrageous. We are in the middle of climate and species crisis."
The groups would like to see environmental and ecological reports from council.
"We'd like to see an arborist report. There was no discussion. We need to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again," Maitland Greens representative Jan Davis said.
However Maitland City Council's Manager Projects & Services Graeme Matthews said the original development application identified three trees for removal but also indicated that more may need to be removed as the project moved forward.
"An assessment was then undertaken by Council's arborist where a further two trees were identified for removal," he said.
"During this assessment it was determined that the impacts from the changes in levels and construction (drainage excavation and pavement construction) would impact significantly on the additional two trees.
"Much of the vegetation removed from the embankment was shrubs and weed species.
"Extensive landscaping will be undertaken as part of the Athletics Centre project."