CONTROVERSIAL plans to axe  trees in ancient woodland in Southampton are to be discussed in public.

Proposals to fell four trees at Marlhill Copse will be discussed by the planning committee at Southampton City Council on June 23.

The news comes as the initial decision to allow the treeworks has been quashed after a row between civic chiefs and campaigners.

The council said the decision had to be taken by officers rather than the planning committee due to the risk the trees posed to the public.

But as reported, the issue was then taken to court.

The proposals put forward by Southampton Airport, which owns the land, will be discussed by the Planning and Rights of Way Panel in a virtual public meeting at 4pm on Tuesday.

Since June, the plans have attracted more than 180 comments, of which 90 are in favour of the plans and 97 are against it.

Many residents said they support the application to ensure the safety of the public. 

In a letter to the city council Susan Lickley, chair of the Townhill Park Residents Association Committee (TPRA), said: "There have been within reports incidences where these species have uprooted/shed large limbs for no identifiable reason despite regular assessments. The risk of failure in these ancient trees given their location to nearby homes and within the woodland must therefore be the pre-dominant risk factor to ensuring people's safety."

But other residents objected to the works and called for an independent report.

Resident Ben Scott-Hawkins, said: "The decision should not be made until a thorough independent report giving objective evidence can be provided.

I ask that the committee defer a decision pending a full, thorough independent expert assessment."

Campaigner Gareth Narbed claimed Southampton Airport refused to allow independent experts to the site to carry out an independent report.

A spokesperson for Southampton Airport said: "We received a request to allow access for three further consultants to assess the trees which are the subject of the our application for consent to fell, which we refused. We have already appointed suitably qualified experts to assess the condition of the trees. We have engaged with the Council’s qualified tree officers in the preparation of the application. No concerns have been raised regarding the adequacy of the evidence available, which, in any case, is a matter for the Council to determine."

As reported, work on the trees stopped a few days after it started in May.

But according to the council report set to be discussed next week, "on 11 June certain works were carried out  in order to remove an immediate risk of serious harm".