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Trees on new housing development given council protection

By Kerry Ashdown | Lichfield | News | Published:

Trees on a new housing development near Lichfield are set to be given council protection.

Silver birch trees

The tree preservation orders (TPOs) made for the Streethay development earlier this year included protection for specimens that were yet to be planted at the time.

But two objections were received in response to an order covering 23 trees in the Yoxall Way to Buddleia Avenue area. A further objection was received to the order covering 26 trees in the Parkes Drive to Hamstall Close section.

An objection to a third order, covering seven trees in Caterham Crescent, Oak Way, Whittle Close and Nightingale Close, was made but withdrawn ahead of a planning committee meeting on June 1, where Lichfield District councillors were asked to confirm the other two TPOs. The order covering the seven trees will be now confirmed by officers.

Committee members confirmed the order for the 23 trees but deferred the order covering 26 trees because of concerns about the suitability of one of the proposed trees for the area it was set to be planted. This TPO will now be considered at a later date.

Objections raised about the TPOs related to individual trees on properties, which residents feared could block out light and were close to garden walls. There were also worries that root damage could be caused to wires or pipes – but the meeting heard that damage to underground services on modern developments was rare due to advances in drainage materials.

Arboricultural officer Gareth Hare told Monday’s meeting: “The site has previously been agricultural land and there are a few existing trees on the site. New planting is important to provide long-term visual amenity for the site.

“Having control over a tree is quite a common concern with a tree preservation order. TPOs give local planning authorities like us the power to protect trees in the interests of amenity and give effective planning conditions.

“[It] does involve an interference with the rights of an individual but this interference is based on the benefits trees give to society. In developments like Streethay with little tree cover it is particularly important trees are planted and retained.”

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An objection letter read out during the meeting, which related to a silver birch at a property, said: “We would like confirmation of the expense. (An) unlimited fine is a great cause of worry to us. Mr Hare has suggested this is unlikely.

“We are still not happy with this hanging over our head – this has and will cause us stress and anxiety. Additionally we feel there may be a need to involve a tree surgeon for future works at our expense.

“We feel the selling of our house, the price, will be affected with a TPO. As an example, if we would have known about this we may not have bought the house.”

Another concern raised was that a resident may be prevented from carrying out work in the future to their property, such as gravelling over a front garden to create lower maintenance garden or driveway. But the meeting was told an application could be made at a later date to fell the tree – and the applicant could appeal if they were not satisfied with the decision made by the council on that application.

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Committee member Richard Cox said: “I am concerned with regards to the silver birch because that does grow tall. The house opposite me had three silver birches which, in terms of the roots, were very prominent and possibly, if allowed to grow, would have been detrimental towards the shared drive.

“I have got a degree of sympathy with those objecting to the TPO.”

Fellow committee member Councillor David Leytham said: “In my garden is a huge silver birch, which takes up a massive part of my time and energy to look after the thing. It belches pollen out in February, it drops rubbish all over the place.

“Is this the sort of tree that has been planted in the unfortunate couple’s garden and if so, shouldn’t we be saying to builders please don’t put these things in people’s tiny gardens?”

But Councillor Deb Baker said: “I do understand concerns about silver birch – I have several silver birch but with the use of an appropriate tree surgeon they can be controlled and looked after and it doesn’t have to become a huge expense.

“As part of the contribution to biodiversity on this estate it is huge – not just in terms of tree canopy but provision of insects for foraging birds.”

Kerry Ashdown

By Kerry Ashdown

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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