Traders and residents reacted with anger as a project to transform the look of Dewsbury town centre got underway.
The £60,000 plan is intended to declutter the town centre and make more space for events.
But Keith Brett, who owns the mobile Cappuccino Bar, based in Market Place twice a week, said his customers had criticised the move “without exception”.
“Everyone has been asking what they are doing,” he said. “It’s taking away the character of the town.”
Benches, shelters, bollards and planting areas are being removed from Market Place and the square in front of the town hall.
Kirklees Council wants to create a wider open space for public events, such as the annual Spirit.
“They are taking away benches when there isn’t enough seating as it is,” said Mr Brett. “It’s all very well making open space but these events are only once or twice a year.
“With the toilets closing, it seems like they don’t want people to come to the town centre.”
Cash for the toilets in Longcauseway was slashed in last month’s budget. They are likely to close unless a community group takes them over.
Coun Cathy Scott (Lab, Dews East) defended the plans. She said: “The planted areas were full of rubbish.” She said the trees were infected with a fungal disease and that there were rats in the area. We are trying to make it nice. t will be one huge space when we have gatherings.
“I understand the benches, but they could be situated in better places.”
Rosemary Mclean, who lives in nearby Manor Street, was also critical. “We are absolutely disgusted,” she said. “There has been no consultation whatsoever.
“Residents enjoyed the greenery. The flower beds and the trees attracted wildlife – sparrows nested in there.
“If we wanted to live in a concrete jungle then we would move to the Eastern Bloc.”
She added that work began at midnight on Thursday and went on until the early hours in front of the town hall.
“The noise was appalling,” she added. Kirklees Council was not available for comment.