Planting and landscaping are required to feature in plans for all new developments, said a Milton Keynes Partnership spokesman. However, removal of trees was not unprecedented. Some had been removed to accommodate Xscape in the late 1990s.

In a statement, MKP defended its appointment of natural resource consultancy RPS to carry out a full audit of trees in the city centre. It said: “It has been recognised for some time that a robust programme of tree conservation and maintenance is required. The audit will record the location, species and condition of the trees and will be the first accurate study of its kind for the city centre trees.”

The results are expected in summer and will form part of a programme for the appropriate protection, movement or replacement of trees.

The statement said: “The Central Milton Keynes Framework is in place to deliver a high-quality vibrant city centre. In order to achieve this, new development is essential. However, the aim is for the overall number of trees and green open spaces in the city to increase.”

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