A youth club founder’s plan to fell trees and build football pitches over village land have sparked wide ranging concerns about wildlife and flooding.

A public meeting in Prestolee last Saturday saw heated debate as Tunde Olasupo, executive coordinator of Farnworth-based Believe Achieve CIC, laid out his proposals.

Having bought a parcel of land in the village, which is partly already a children's play area, he said he hoped to cut down the trees, build five-a-side football pitches, a bike library and portacabins for changing rooms.

Kearsley Cllr Debbie Newall, who attended the meeting, said: “Being a member of the planning committee I understand the process he’s going through and I know it’s his land.

The Bolton News: Residents say some of the trees are natural flood defencesResidents say some of the trees are natural flood defences (Image: June Clarke)

“But I told him the residents were concerned about the trees being cut down.”

She added: “To be honest, he didn’t explain the situation well and he didn’t seem mindful to explain the process to the residents.”

Cllr Newall said contractors were already on site and had begun cutting down trees when she arrived at the land.

The Bolton News: Part of the land is already used as a children's areaPart of the land is already used as a children's area (Image: Public)

She persuaded them to pause but has since found out that there are no current tree protection orders in place.

Cllr Newall says she hopes to find out if an order can be put in place on private land.

She also says she has asked Mr Olasupo if he can at least pause his plans until they can be properly debated in the planning process.

The Bolton News: Some trees have already been felledSome trees have already been felled (Image: June Clarke)

Speaking about Saturday’s meeting, Cllr Newall said: “It was going nowhere, and he didn’t seem to want to meet us halfway.”

She added: “To build community facilities you need to take the community with you, but he didn’t seem to want to do that.”

Cllr Newall said at one point the attendees offered to buy the land themselves, to which Mr Olasupo responded they would have to pay £500,000.

Attendees also raised concerns about the extra traffic and that the trees may help act as a natural flood defence in a village that has had huge problems with flooding in the recent past.

The Bolton News: Concerns have also been raised about the effects on wildlifeConcerns have also been raised about the effects on wildlife (Image: June Clarke)

Resident June Clarke said: “If this goes, there will be increased incidence of flooding, the river bank is constantly eroding at a quite frightening rate already.

“More homes will be affected and eventually it will become impossible to find house insurance or a buyer for our houses.”

Members of the community say that the land is already used by children for playing, elderly people for walking and could be home to wildlife like bats, foxes, owls and squirrels.

Rachael Webreicht, who attended the meeting, said: “He wasn’t very forthcoming with his plans.”

She added: “We asked him politely if he would meet us halfway and not cut down any trees until he at least had planning permission, but he just said it was his land and he can do what he wants with it.”

But Mr Olasupo says he still remains open to discussions with people in Prestolee.

A Believe Achieve CIC statement said: “We understand there have been concerns about the trees on the land.

“We’d like to clarify that, as private landowners, we comply with all legal requirements and regulations.

“Any actions we take are well within the bounds of the law.

ALSO READ: Call to fund flood defences were residents have been 'living in fear' for years

ALSO READ: Works on Stoneclough Road, Kearsley

ALSO READ: Deal struck on bowling club and community centre

“We respect the diverse opinions within our community.

“However, we are dedicated to our plans that will benefit all, and we understand that pleasing everyone may not be possible.

“If you cannot support our initiative, we kindly ask you to refrain from spreading misinformation or making slanderous statements.

“We are open to constructive dialogue and are here to address any genuine concerns.”

Formal plans are expected to be lodged next week.