Action plan to fell trees and concrete over paths at 400-year-old St Albans woodland

The Wick in Marshalswick.

The Wick in Marshalswick. - Credit: Archant

A “hideous” plan to fell trees and concrete forest paths in a 400-year-old wood has triggered an angry reaction from residents.

The Wick, St Albans.

The Wick, St Albans. - Credit: Archant

The district council’s Draft Greenspace Action Plan outlines proposals for the maintenance of Marshalswick’s The Wick - between Sandpit Lane and Marshal’s Drive - over the next five years.

It includes thinning hornbeam trees and cutting down mature sycamore, laurel shrubs, and holly bushes - to “open up” the area and give ground-level plants sunshine and space.

Two metre footpaths would be resurfaced with either clean recycled concrete or virgin aggregate to discourage walkers from trampling fauna when avoiding muddy areas.

Sycamore trees were chosen over other species in the wood, such as oak and hornbeam, because it is a non-native, and laurel was selected because it has been classed as invasive.

The Wick nature reserve in Marshalswick

The Wick nature reserve in Marshalswick - Credit: Archant

But Wendy Brook, who grew up by The Wick and has enjoyed the 4.8 hectare site for around 50 years, described it as sanitisation: “This is an utterly hideous suggestion.

“When it is muddy people put wellies on, problem solved. Or perhaps the council is proposing a road through The Wick to accommodate vehicles as they are proposing so much constant felling, coppicing, and planting?

Most Read

“So much for being a nature reserve.”

She said a path would take away “all the fantasy, mystique, and freedom to follow a natural forest path”.

The Wick nature reserve in Marshalswick

The Wick nature reserve in Marshalswick - Credit: Archant

Responding to the proposal for felling trees, Wendy said: “Why does SADC not want children to appreciate the majestic splendour of the mature sycamore? So many have been felled already - under the pretext that they are not a native species.

“How many years does a tree have to be here before it becomes native? The sycamore has been here for millennia.”

She asked what lesson it teaches children about the value of nature and described the proposals as “totally detrimental” to wildlife.

The Wick is designated as both a Local Wildlife Site and a Local Nature Reserve, and there has been a Tree Preservation Order on some species since 1985.

Some ditches and banks in the wood are thought to be Roman - the land was given to SADC in 1929 by sir Arthur Copson Peake “to keep the land in its wild state, as nature made it”.

The council has promised to consider all submissions on the Draft Greenspace Action Plan once the consultation period is over, and nothing will be finalised until this time.

To sign Wendy’s petition against the plans, visit consultation period runs until May 14 - to view the proposal, visit comment on the plans, contact the Countryside Management Service on