Agenda item

Objection to the Making of Tree Preservation Order 2011 No 5

Report of the Assistant Director, Commissioning.


The Hearing, which was heard in accordance with the Council’s agreed procedure, took place in the presence of the appellant and his neighbour, Mrs Baker.  Mr Phil Mason was also in attendance as the Council’s Solicitor.


The Tree and Countryside Officer (TCO) presented the report, which was to consider confirmation of Tree Preservation Order 2011 No. 5 in relation to objections to that confirmation from the owner of the tree and the neighbour at 36 Fakenham Road. Confirmation of a TPO was being considered following the new owner’s intention to have the tree removed.


The TCO found that the tree was a fine oak of substantial proportions, in good condition with no specific areas of concern and was prominent in the village scene over a considerable area, including the recreational area of St Mary’s Primary School to the east, and the adjacent section of the Fakenham Road through route to the west.  He felt the life span of the tree could be indefinite with appropriate management.


The tree was less than 4 meters from the back of the house.  No evidence of structural damage to the respective dwellings had been presented and risks from structural failure of parts of the tree may be mitigated by appropriate pruning.


The Solicitor explained the powers under which the Committee were able to confirm a TPO and gave them guidance.


The TCO’s opinion on the letter received from the Chartered Surveyor to the appellant was that he was not a tree expert, and did not provide evidence to demonstrate structural damage to the building.


A Committee Member questioned the TCO on how close had he inspected the tree, to which he answered 360 degrees around it, but he had not climbed up it.  The Committee Member had inspected the tree himself and on climbing a ladder placed against it, he observed a holly bush growing in the middle of it which was visible from the ground about 3’-4’ high, along with quite a bit of rot in the area.  He believed in the future it could make the tree weak at that point and therefore dangerous to residents in the property, the adjacent one and those in the grounds of the school.


The Chairman asked the TCO if he would like to re-visit the tree following the Committee Member’s findings which he did not, he was also asked if he remained satisfied that the tree was not compromised, which he confirmed.  A TPO would not preclude any work done on the tree in agreement with the local authority.


In answer to the Committee Member’s opinion that the tree appeared to have had the top broken out, the TCO explained that many trees had a chalice type structure.  He did not believe it had been crowned or pollarded.


Mr Stimpson, the appellant, believed the TPO placed on it was a rash decision and a ‘knee jerk’ reaction in finding out that they intended to carry out work on the tree.  He disagreed that it had high amenity value as it was located behind his property next to woodland, and there were other trees in neighbouring properties and in Fakenham Road.  He did not believe the TCO had carried out a proper survey of the tree.  The house was believed to be 200-300 years old and was older than the tree.


He circulated for the benefit of all Committee Members and the TCO, photographs taken in the last two weeks which showed damage to his property, the size of the tree canopy and damage to it.  He explained that debris which had fallen from the tree along with the shade it produced, had caused considerable damage to the roof of his property, with the need to replace felt and timbers, due to damp held in the tiles.  The shade did not allow the roof to dry out.  When it rained, water laid in the crown.  Tree boughs that came out from the trunk were of considerable weight when moisture gathered, and to reduce the size would not be an option, as he believed the trunk was not in good order. 


He had spoken to the Headmaster of St Mary’s Primary School who had concerns and would be keen to have work undertaken on the tree.


In the 28 years Mrs Baker had lived next door at 36 Fakenham Road, she said the tree had grown considerably.  They had it topped 10 years ago and was expensive.  The tree caused damp, lack of light, and covered one side of her house.  When Mrs Baker contacted Breckland Council a year ago, there was not a TPO on it.  She advised of extra insurance costs incurred due to having a tree 3m away from their property.


Mr Stimpson had purchased the property from his grandfather with the intention of keeping it as his family home and putting a small bedroom extension on the rear to ‘square off’ the property. He strongly believed a huge amount of weight overhung his property and if a branch fell, it would fall on a bedroom.  He would be willing to replant trees in the garden.  The TPO had been sent to his neighbours, Mr & Mrs Baker at 36 Fakenham Road.


Having viewed the photographs provided by Mr. Stimpson, the TCO did not change his recommendation.


The Solicitor reminded all parties what need to be taken account of (visibility, individual impact, wider context and the question of expediency).


The appellant and Mrs Baker asked if it was correct to place a TPO on a tree purely on amenity grounds when there were health and safety concerns, to which the Chairman replied that if the Council decided the tree was of value  a TPO could be placed on it, if it was found to be dangerous the tree could be cut down following a proper examination undertaken by a tree expert, and carried out through the proper channels.  Without a TPO the Chairman had no doubt the tree would be cut down.  If a TPO was confirmed, the appellant and Mrs Baker would be at liberty to apply for works they thought they could justify to the tree, and the Council would consider the application.


After retiring to consider the matter the Solicitor advised in summary that :


  • the tree was prominent in the landscape
  • it was publically visible from the public highway
  • it was old and in need of proper management
  • evidence was not found that the tree was in immediate need of felling


Accordingly, it was


RESOLVED that TPO 2011 No. 5 be confirmed as recommended, in order to protect the tree and in order to ensure proper management of it.


Mrs Baker left the room.


The appellant failed to see what the benefit was on placing a TPO on it when they were going to apply to have it removed.


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