Agenda item

N/2020/0514 - Proposed removal of Horse Chestnut tree (under Tree Preservation Order 069). 1a Billing Road


The Development Manager submitted a report to the Committee. Members’ attention was drawn to the addendum which contained representations from the County Ward Councillor and additional objections from local residents, also a correction in that the tree’s canopy did not overhang into a neighbouring property. An arboricultural report was submitted alongside the application to remove the tree which stated that fungal growth and infection had weakened the stability of the tree and would result in possible catastrophic failure of the tree’s base. Whilst it was difficult to ascertain when the tree might fall, it was clear that it was in a poor and declining condition. The Council’s Tree Officer provided a statement which agreed with the arboricultural report to recommend the tree’s removal. A condition was included to ensure that the tree be replaced with another heavy standard of an appropriate species, also protected with a TPO.


Councillor Flavell, in her capacity as the Ward Councillor, spoke against the application and commented that the application mentioned a “danger to the public” which was not mentioned in the Tree Officer’s report. She further commented that Building Control had confirmed that the retaining wall did not pose a danger to the public; she asked that the Committee defer their decision and request that an independent survey be undertaken, noting that the applicant had declined to do so.


In response to questions, the Committee heard that applications to maintain the tree had been submitted in the years following the TPO being granted in 1990 but no works had been carried out since then.


Nick Stephens, a local resident, spoke against the application and advised that should the tree be removed, the subsequent subsidence would cause damage to his property and suggested that the Council would be liable for any damage to his property. He noted that there had been over 100 objections to the application but no messages of support for the removal of the tree had been received.


In response to questions, the Committee heard that subsidence was  risk associated with extraction of moisture from soil; subsidence would only occur if the soil was not allowed to rehydrate and given that the soil had a high concentration of free-draining sandstone, it was not envisaged that this would be an issue. The proposed replacement tree would be approximately 3.5m high. In 2001, an application was submitted to remove the tree which was refused, however this subsequent application and the addition of the arboricultural report, supported by the Council’s Tree Officer showed that it was no longer safe to retain. No Capital Asset Value assessment had been carried out; it was explained that the Tree Officer felt that public health and safety should take precedence over public amenity. It was further explained that the TPO Regulations did not allow for more than a 1-for-1 replacement of protected trees. The Tree Officer advised that due to the way in which works were carried out prior to the implementation of the TPO, should any remedial works be carried out to reduce the canopy at this stage, there was a risk that its energy reserves would deplete, further weakening the tree.


Members discussed the report.




That the application be APPROVED subject to the conditions and reasons as set out in the report.


Councillors Lane, M Markham and Bottwood left the meeting at this juncture.

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