Protest to be staged over plans to fell Old Town Sycamore

Roots damaged on the Duke Street tree Photo Thanet Trees

A protest is planned to take place over an application to fell a Sycamore tree in Margate’s Old Town.

Members of Mature Trees Matter, alongside Thanet Trees group, will protest from 8am until 5pm on Saturday (April 17) at the Duke Street site.

The application has been submitted by Duns Developments, based in Luton, for removal of the tree to clear the site ahead of building a four-storey property with five flats and a commercial unit.

The area the tree is in was one of two plots that were earmarked as garden sites under a Countdown to Turner scheme in 2011.

However despite a spend of £7,881 on design, consultation and soil sample for the site and another at Cobbs Place, the gardens did not come to fruition.

The Duke Street site eventually went to auction as part of the council’s asset disposal programme in 2017 and was bought for an astonishing £270,000, way above the £70,000 guide price. The site formed part of a larger redevelopment scheme known as the Queen’s Arms Yard.

Development image

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

The plot has since been to auction a further two times.

Thanet Trees group is now urging councillors to call in the decision to go to planning committee. Last year the group launched a campaign to save the tree from being lost due to the development.

Last year’s protest Photo Frank Leppard

Now an objection lodged by the group says the mature tree is much needed and in a  Conservation Area.

They add: “Thanet council sold off a designated community garden for development at auction, then agreed planning with no further consideration for the fate of the largest tree in Margate Old Town.

“A pre-application meeting was held on site with a planning officer and the conservation officer – neither of whom appear to have mentioned the tree at all. Despite trying to raise this issue with local ward councillors for the past two years, we have been completely ignored. There is no mention of the tree in any of the designs or documents, let alone the required analysis of its merits, potential and importance.”

Thanet Trees says work has been carried out this week and raise the issue of whether Root Protection Area considerations have been implemented.

They add: “This tree is currently protected because it is situated in a Conservation Area and agreement to fell has not been given.”

Questions have also been raised over whether root works being undertaken are legal when the application to fell has not yet been decided and whether Kent County Council policy for the protection of trees on development sites has been ignored.

Photo Thanet Trees

The group adds: “Given the stipulations of our new Local Plan and the declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2019, it is shocking that the felling of this vital Sycamore tree was ever considered acceptable. It is not acceptable.

“In the Local Plan it is noted that “Seafront areas are important to the vitality and viability of the coastal town centres as they attract tourists and provide a natural leisure focus for the towns in close proximity to the High Streets and main shopping areas. As such, it is important that leisure and tourism uses are encouraged here that are complementary to the town centres and encourage economic growth.

“Trees and green areas are much needed in Margate Old Town, a space almost entirely devoid of natural vegetation, in a district with one of the lowest canopy coverage in the UK.

“This whole sorry episode is a travesty that must be exposed and queried at the highest level. We cannot fell our precious mature trees in barren urban centres, we must retain them and we need to plant many more – and not just in the easy spaces such as parks.

“Mature trees produce loads of oxygen, they store and soak up carbon and carbon dioxide, they clean the air, protect us from flooding, keep things cool, provide a home for wildlife (the flowers providing food for pollinators, bark providing a refuge for countless insects, and the canopies providing rest for exhausted migratory birds who have ever decreasing places to settle as they arrive on our coastline) and of course they are good for our mental health and wellbeing.

“This application must be called in by councillors immediately.”

To view the application go to Thanet council’s planning page and search for reference TCA/TH/21/0386

19 Comments

  1. If it’s a healthy tree leave it as it is, just because it may get in the way of your plans is not a good enough excuse to cut it down.

    • Unfortunately TDC officers and our councillors as usual did the wrong thing. This tree is automatically granted a preservation order because it is in a conservation area. However the idiots, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here and assuming they are idiots rather than corrupt, Had given planning permission to build on this site. There is no room for this sycamore so it will be removed. The only way to stop it is to buy the land back. Not likely. I have arranged the protest on Saturday to bring peoples attention to what TDC is doing to Thanet. There will be no mature trees left if they are aloud to continue.

  2. The Isle of Thanet is severely depleted of trees already, being one of the worse if not the worse in the country. Why destroy another perfectly healthy tree (assuming it is)? This needs to stop and more trees need to be planted not cut down 😔

  3. Taken from a previous article on this site:
    Thanet has one of the lowest tree canopy covers in the UK, at just 4.4% and the group says fellings are taking place at “an alarming rate.” A
    And taken from Mayor of London website:
    London has more than 8 million trees, covering around 21 per cent of the capital’s land area.

    And why are more homes needed in that tiny space when the area already is short of parking. A lovely small garden for everyone – residents and visitors to enjoy is what is needed.

    Guess we’ll have to say if money talks louder again!

  4. Thanet council why don’t you just cut all the trees down,manage to cut the beautiful trees from our parks and every place for selling of plots of land horrible

  5. I would like to know what percentage of trees in Thanet is cut down by TDC and what percentage is cut by developers, farmers, KCC, and local residents who are none of the above.

    As TDC is undoubtedly aware of the strong disapproval felt by many when trees are cut down, it seems very unlikely that they are felling trees because they are malicious and/or ignorant or because they hate trees.

  6. I know quite a few trees have been cut down in Thanet. But anyone have how many trees have been planted in Dane Park, Dane Valley, Hartsdown, Tivoli, The Westcliff in Ramsgate and Ellington Park? To name a few.

  7. TDC Planning department are not following the rules and guidlines in association with Conservation areas at all. Whenever a developer wants to fell trees they are given permission. This site should never have been sold off in the first place as it is cramped and will mean a change in the area causing overcrowding and with the plans showing the premises built up to the borders with pavement there will be no parking available for the flats and buisness.
    There are nests each year in this tree and we are now well into nesting season, plus there is a possibility of bats roosting in the sycamore. Furthermore, no consultation has been done on this, no ecology survey and report up front. Not even a consultation with the public before TDC took and sold the land off which was earmarked for a sheltered spot and small garden for the local people and visitors to sit and enjoy.
    Are TDC acting legally without due regard to the procedures needed? and could they end up in a court case over this if permission to fell is granted as is? Also, the Tree Officer should have been asked to inspect the tree and as the tree is the only one there and gives huge amenity value in the old town it should receive the extra protection in this Conservation area. Do TDC not even know what conservation means?, for pity sake. They pander to every developer and are selling Thanet down the pan. About time they woke up and smelt the coffee. They have to be one of the top councils in the country for riding roughshod over what the residents want and need in their towns.

  8. TDC’s successful passing of the Climate Emergency Declaration, mirrors KCC’s Climate Emergency Declaration & others by local authorities throughout the UK, however, without substantive changes in policy & practice, in every TDC department whose activities have a genuine bearing on the environment & biodiversity in the district, to render the Climate Emergency Declaration a functional, all encompassing governor of every aspect of council activity, it risks being regarded as evidence of TDC dysfunction & green wash.

    It had been hoped that TDC’s creation of new environmental roles, such as a Climate Officer, plus reinstating the lost role of Tree Officer, something Thanet Trees campaigned for, would herald a new era in TDC embodying & promoting green issue’s throughout the entire Council, holistically, but with non-enforcement of environmental crime proving these new roles as non-entities, the public & environmental activist groups alike can only be disappointed that the Climate Emergency Declaration has yet to be properly implemented.

    Business as usual, despite the potential for worthy positive implications of TDC passing a Climate Emergency Declaration, poses questions on whether TDC is capable of realising the trans-departmental ramifications of such a Declaration & with every environmental crime ignored & environmentally irresponsible planning decision passed, TDC demonstrates an executive level lack of awareness, a lack of political gumption & looks increasingly impotent & incompetent.

  9. At what time this Sat 17 th is the protest to protect the tree taking place ? Perhaps more details should be posted here .

    • “Members of Mature Trees Matter, alongside Thanet Trees group, will protest from 8am until 5pm on Saturday (April 17) at the Duke Street site.”

    • If you read the article, you’ll see exactly those details in the second paragraph.
      What it doesn’t say is whether or not there’s a requirement for attendees to dress as zombies, clowns or some such, as is usually the case in any event associated with Thanet Trees.
      But look on the bright side.
      If the tree is cut down, then its legs could be burned in the wood burning stoves so favoured by some devotees of Thanet Trees.

  10. Having seen the ‘development image’ in the process of reading the story – WHY is something that looks so horrible allowed to be built? I’d much rather look at the tree any day.

  11. I believe that most people would rather see and enjoy a tree such as this one than a monstrous block that does not blend in or enhance the conservation area.

    The principle of Conservation Areas is to ‘Enhance and Preserve’ what is already there, placing additional development control on new builds whilst protecting the natural environment.

    There is an overriding opinion locally that the tree gives much more to people than a block of flats, there is a huge number of objections against felling it, over 50 on the authority planning portal. If they granted the application to fell the loved grade A tree against the local opinion it would be an enormous failure by the local authority according to the Conservation Area regulations and legislation when the tree contributes much more in the conservation area than a new block of flats would.

    Where are the local councillors and the greens on this savage application?

    It should have been made known to any purchasers that the land on which they are buying has a protected tree, but any purchaser should have done their homework with the local authority, which should have told them that the area is a Conservation Area and the scrap of land has a protected tree on it. Neither of these acts were carried out by either party so it looks. The purchaser must have just assumed that planning consent for the land was a given right. I believe it was then sold on again, probably with the buyer also unaware of these regulations.

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