DOZENS of protected trees have been saved after plans to chop them down and build new houses where they stand sparked outrage.

The copse next to Redlands Close will remain mostly intact after Backhouse Housing faced a major backlash and backed down from their original proposal.

Councillors, neighbours and environmentalists protested the plans to remove the mature trees, with more than 150 Highworth citizens writing objections to the idea.

Swindon Earth Strike, Swindon Climate Action Network, Extinction Rebellion Swindon, Transition Swindon and the Swindon Green Party teamed up to create the Save Redlands Copse campaign.

Jon Timbrell of Swindon Earth Strike said: “This shows that people power can have an impact and that people campaigning about issues that matter to them does pay off.

“Not all the trees have been saved but a big difference has been made, so I feel that it’s something to be proud of.

“We will ask the people who supported this campaign if they are happy with this compromise or if they would still prefer no development at all – I’d be comfortable with either option.

“This is a good chance for the town council to show they are serious about their commitment to 30 per cent tree cover by planting trees and rewilding elsewhere in the town to compensate for any loss from the Redlands site.”

Backhouse still hopes to build 65 homes on the town’s outskirts and chop down several trees to build the housing but have reduced the overall amount of felled trunks from 92 to 53.

Plus, there are plans to plant 39 trees in public green space and 67 in people’s gardens around what would be known as the Redlands Park site.

Theo Backhouse said: “Firm feedback made it clear that these plans were not what Highworth wanted in terms of trees.

“We are now providing four times the amount of open space required by Section 106 rules. We hope we will deliver a fantastic new area to live in in Highworth.”

Planning consultant Chris Beaver added: “There was support among officers in Swindon to take out the copse so we went along with that at first.

“But the proposed removal attracted a lot of local concern so we reworked the scheme to keep the copse in its entirety.”

A protest at the site which featured on the front page of the Adver in October revealed the extent of the uproar against the original plans.

Backhouse staff told the town council about the new revisions during a public meeting held earlier this week.

Neighbours at the meeting appreciated the change but voiced concerns about some of the new houses being built too close to existing properties and mature trees.

Artificial badger sets and runs will be set up around the site because, since buying the land, the Backhouse team has noticed an influx of the stripey mammals.