Plea to save sycamore tree as Duke Street plot goes to auction yet again

The tree at the site and the proposed new build

A plot in Margate Old Town is due to go under the hammer – again – at an auction on December 16.

The land was sold off by Thanet council in 2017, raking in an astonishing £200,000 above the £70,000 guide price.

The site formed part of a larger redevelopment scheme known as the Queen’s Arms Yard

An application was lodged with Thanet council in November 2017 to build a four-story property with a shop and seven flats on the ‘scrubland’ at Duke Street. This was approved in June 2018, with some amendments.

Photo Clive Emson auctions

But environmental campaigners say the building plans will mean the destruction of one of the Old Towns only trees.

The permission is for the erection of a four storey building with four, one-bedroom and one, two-bedroom flats along with retail on the ground floor. Three objections to the proposals were lodged with TDC.

Now it is back up for auction, with the planning permission, for a whopping guide price of £280,000-£300,000.

Campaigners from the Thanet Trees group say they will campaign against any felling because the development will mean the destruction of greenery and bird habitat.

They add that the key issue is the tree has protections that were never considered in the application decision and the community had tried to take the site on as a community garden but the consultancy money evaporated.

Tree campaigners Tony Wait, Dosh Archer and Chris Wilson Photo Frank Leppard

A demonstration is planned to take place at the Duke Street site on December 5 at 11am

The event post says: “NO consideration has been given to the tree in the plans. And there is also the fact that the money that once was available for a community garden in this spot seems to have gone AWOL.”

Member Tony Waite says he has lived in the Old Town for 33 years and seen the tree grow over that time.

The artist said: “It is important to save it as the tree is one of the only ones in the Old Town and can be seen from all angles.

“It is greenery and a place for birds and wildlife. People are just cutting trees and shrubbery down but we need greenery.

“I have lived in the Old Town for 33 years and seen it grow. I go past it every day when I take my dog to the beach. I do not agree with the building proposal, it is really ugly and I can’t see how the tree could stay if it is built.

“It would be really sad for the wildlife.”

An approval letter for the scheme does not forbid the felling of the tree although this cannot be done while nesting birds are present.

The letter says: “T he applicant is reminded that, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended (section 1 ), it is an offence to remove, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built.

“Planning consent for a development does not provide a defence against prosecution under this act. Trees and scrub are likely to contain nesting birds between 1st March and 31st August inclusive.

“Trees and scrub are present on the application site and are to be assumed to contain nesting birds between the above dates, unless a recent survey has been undertaken by a competent ecologist to assess the nesting bird activity on site during this period and has shown it is absolutely certain that nesting birds are not present.”

The plot can be found on the Clive Emson site here

Thanet Trees can be found on facebook here