Report of the Chief Officer (Legal and Governance)
The Committee received the report of the Chief Officer (Legal and Governance) to enable Members to consider the objection received to Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017) relating to an area of woodland trees located at land south of Bank Well, The Row, Silverdale and identified as A4, and thereafter whether or not to confirm the Order.
It was reported that Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017) had been made following a concern being reported to the Council that trees had recently been removed from the land in question, to the detriment of the site and wider locality.
In determining whether or not to confirm Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017), Members heard the representations of Mr. Wales, the Appellant, and the Tree Protection Officer, on behalf of Lancaster City Council.
Mr. S. P. Wales, the Appellant
Mr. Wales informed Members that the area in question was the private garden to his property, 12 The Row, and not part of Burton Well Limestone Pavement Biological Heritage Site, as stated. As such, there was no public amenity to the land.
He had no objection to a Tree Preservation Order being made on named, individual trees within his garden, or to meeting with a Council representative to agree which trees needed protection.
A blanket Tree Preservation Order on the land would deprive him of the right to enjoy his garden and give him less rights than his neighbours, who could remove or cut back trees in their gardens without permission.
Mr. Wales advised Members that the five trees recently removed from his garden had been felled by North West Electricity to clear a safe path for their mains electricity cable, which ran from two posts within his grounds.
Over the last four to five years, he had removed a number of trees from his garden, most of which were either dead, or with little evidence of new growth, or in a poor state.
Some of the trees currently in his garden were growing at an angle, and overhanging The Row and thus interfering with traffic. The branches of the oak by the garage were dangerous and several other trees had suffered storm damage and required work.
Following Mr. Wales’s representation, Members of the Committee had the opportunity to question Mr. Wales on his representation.
Once there were no further questions, the Chairman asked the Tree Protection Officer to give her representation.
Lancaster City Council’s Tree Protection Officer
The Tree Protection Officer informed Members that under Section 198 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Local Planning Authority may make a Tree Preservation Order in respect of a tree or group of trees if it appeared that it was expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the protection of trees in their area.
Following a concern having been reported to the Council regarding trees having recently been removed from the said land, upon inspection it had been apparent that a small number of large, mature trees had recently been felled.
There was evidence across the site that there had been a gradual and progressive removal of woodland trees over an estimated period of three to four years, resulting in an entire loss of woodland. The condition and discolouration of a relatively high number of old tree stumps scattered across the site indicated a period of several years over which they were likely to have been felled. There was no evidence of new tree planting within the site.
Members were advised that the Forestry Commission set limitations to control the rate in which woodland trees were felled. An individual was able to remove up to 5 cubic metres of trees in a quarterly calendar period without the need for a Felling Licence from the Forestry Commission. However, if an individual felled trees below the requirement for a Felling Licence, relatively large volumes of trees could cumulatively be felled within a site over a number of years.
The City Council considered the remaining woodland trees to be under threat from removal, and Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017) had been made on 15th August 2017, in the interest of public amenity value and wildlife benefit.
A Tree Evaluation Method for Preservation Orders (TEMPO) had been used to demonstrate a structured and consistent approach to the assessment of the trees and woodland. A TEMPO score of 15+ had been attained, supporting the protection of the trees with a Tree Preservation Order.
One letter of objection had been received from the land owner, Mr. Wales, dated 25th July 2017, and Mr. Wales had confirmed his objection in a letter dated 9th October 2017.
Mr. Wales had submitted a Pre-Application Advice request, referenced as 17/01043/ONE relating to the erection of a detached dwelling on the land in question, which the Council had considered unlikely to be acceptable for a range of planning reasons, including the potential impact upon existing trees.
It was recommended that Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017) be confirmed with modification to change the current designation from Area (A1) to that of Woodland (W1). The Area designation had been used in an emergency scenario to provide immediate protection, pending further consideration.
Members were advised that the woodland designation would ensure that all trees present at the time of the Order being made would be protected and all subsequent new generations of trees of whatever species were also protected, which was essential to the re-establishment and continuation of this important and biologically sensitive area of woodland established within Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Burton Well Limestone Pavement Biological Heritage Site and Woodland.
Following the Tree Protection Officer’s representation on behalf of Lancaster City Council, Members of the Committee had the opportunity to question the Tree Protection Officer on her representation.
The Appellant, Mr. Wales, then had the opportunity to reply.
(The Tree Protection Officer and the Appellant, Mr. Wales, left the meeting room whilst the Committee made its decision in private.)
Members considered the options before them:
(1) To confirm Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017) -
(a) Without modification;
(b) Subject to such modification as is considered expedient.
(2) Not to confirm Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017).
It was proposed by Councillor Metcalfe and seconded by Councillor Guilding:
“That Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017) be confirmed, subject to the following modification:
Change the designation from the temporary emergency area (A1) designation to that of a woodland designation (W1).”
Upon being put to the vote, 4 Members voted in favour of the proposal, with 1 abstention, whereupon the Chairman declared the proposition to be carried.
(The Tree Protection Officer and the Appellant, Mr. Wales, returned to the meeting room for the decision to be announced.)
That Tree Preservation Order No. 621 (2017) be confirmed, subject to the following modification:
Change the designation from the temporary emergency area (A1) designation to that of a woodland designation (W1).