CONTRACTORS have spent the early part of this week felling a cluster of trees ahead of work to replace a congested roundabout with a traffic light junction.

The year-long work on Stonebridge roundabout, in Darlington, starts on Monday (February 17).

Built in the 1970s, the roundabout is often a cause for delays for motorists and will be replaced with a light-controlled junction.

Darlington Borough Council hopes the work will improve the flow of traffic around the ring road.

Contractors began work to cut down the trees on the Parkgate approach to the junction, close to the town’s magistrates courts, earlier this week.

The move is unpopular with conservationists, who asked why the trees could not be kept.

A council spokeswoman said: “Sections of new road and a pedestrian/cycle way will be constructed as part of the new scheme.

“The removal of the trees was unfortunately necessary to accommodate the new road levels and gas pipe diversions.

“When works are completed the area will be landscaped, as unfortunately the existing trees could not be retained.”