FRUSTRATED residents have been left questioning why the council planted a selection of small plants 10 months after "condemning" established hedges.

The entrance to Orchard Close in Colden Common had been bordered by leylandii hedges for many years until Winchester City Council instructed contractors to remove them completely in favour of new beds.

Members of the community claim the move is a "substantial waste of money" and described it as "totally unnecessary".

John Boyes has led the campaign on behalf of residents and started a petition calling for WCC to address the issue.

"The residents of Orchard Close are devastated because the route into their properties has lost all of its character," said Mr Boyes.

"No one here wanted this to be done and we were not told or asked about it.

"We had complained that the hedges were out of control and needed to be trimmed back but they condemned them.

"The council said they would be replaced but they just abandoned the site until they replanted these small shrubs, which will take years to grow.

"What they have done must have cost thousands and it is absolute madness. This is a waste of rate payers money and took place with no consultation."

Mr Boyes said the environmental benefit, which had provided a habitat for wildlife including hedgehogs, had now been lost.

He said WCC had been due to cut the hedges back in January 2017, however this never took place, with contractors removing the hedge in November 2018 following complaints by residents.

Since then there had been no activity until earlier this month to remove the shrubs that remained and replace them with a selection of plants.

Cllr Tony Bronk, representative for Colden Common and Twyford, said he was disappointed by the lack of effective communication from the council with residents.

"I have been in touch with officers and the portfolio holder," said Cllr Bronk. "I will be ensuring there is communication back to residents this week. It should have happened before the work.

"I am talking to residents in the area to find out where they would have liked the money to have been spent so I can make that case.

"I think it is a basic failure to have communicated properly from the outset."