BOSSES at a York shopping park want to chop down 103 trees, saying they are hiding the shops and hindering sales.

The owners of Clifton Moor Retail Park want to remove many of the trees that stand between the Outer Ring Road and eastern part of the shopping park, which includes Dunelm Mill, Tenpin bowling and Home Bargains.

Mike Hopkins, director of Jones Lang LaSalle Ltd, which represents the retail park's owners, said felling the trees would improve business, but York's Green Party leader called the proposal "incredible".

In a letter to City of York Council, Mr Hopkins said: "It is important that visibility of the retail park is maximised in order to maintain customer visits and maximise viability.

"The trees within the landscape buffer have been identified as a reason for the Retail Park’s poor performance; the proposed works will improve visibility into the site and improve the site’s footfall."

He said the original design at the shopping park was for low-key and low-level landscaping, so customers could enjoy views of the shops.

The trees earmarked for removal include 16 poplars, 11 alders, seven oaks, 25 ash, 11 birch, one sycamore, three Lombardy poplars and 17 of unspecified species. A further 12 trees, including four birches, would be removed and replaced.

A tree preservation order written last year came into effect on April 1, meaning the developer needs permission from the city council to go ahead with its plans.

Cllr Andy D'Agorne, leader of York Green Party, called the idea incredible. He said: "They may only be 20 years old but if you keep chopping down 20-year-old trees you will never have mature trees."

Cllr D'Agorne said he would consider the arguments very carefully if it came to the planning committee, on which he sits, but he said: "It does seem excessive."

He praised the Treemendous programme, which promotes tree-planting in York, and said: "This seems to be completely the opposite idea."

In 2007, a City of York Council report said York did not have enough trees, and had far less tree cover than other areas of Yorkshire. The council said then that a new wood would be planted in the city.