Thanet council raises ‘no objection’ to felling of Duke Street tree

Campaigners tried to save the tree Photo Carl Hudson

Thanet council has issued a decision of ‘no objection’ to the felling of a mature Sycamore tree in the Old Town which had been the subject of a campaign to save it.

Members of Mature Trees Matter, alongside Thanet Trees group, had protested at plans to chop down the tree and a ‘notice of liability’ had been sent to the council by group members.

Campaigners say they will now pursue legal action over the decision.

The application was 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.

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.

Photo Carl Hudson

Thanet Trees group this month urged 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. An objection lodged by the group says the mature tree is much needed and in a  Conservation Area.

Questions were also raised over what happened to the community garden plan and where the pot of money for it has now gone.

A decision notice published today (April 26) regarding the felling says 68 letters of representation were received raising issues of the need to retain the tree and its value for wildlife and the climate.

However, the officer recommendation was to raise no objection despite the tree’s healthy condition due to the existing planning permission for the site.

Development image

A decision report says: “The sycamore is a large mature tree which appears to be in a healthy condition which provides positive amenity value in the Conservation area. This tree is one of few remaining mature trees in Margate Old Town.

“The amenity value of the tree in the Conservation area is therefore given weight in the consideration of this determination. The tree has also been cited as providing a habitat for wildlife and potential flood prevention measures. Also outlined is that the council has declared a Climate emergency and pledged to do what is within its powers and resources to make Thanet District Council as a local authority carbon neutral by 2030.

“The site of the tree has an extant planning permission for the development of a 4 storey building for 4No. 1 bedroom and 1No. 2 bedroom flats along with 1No. commercial unit on the ground floor. The site also is allocated in the Local Plan as a housing site for development and has a previous approval for built form development.

“It is considered that the tree has some amenity value, however, it is also appreciated that within the previous consented scheme the tree would also have been lost. In this case, whilst it is regrettable that the tree would be lost as part of this proposal, it would be very difficult to develop the site and retain the tree.

“The notice form states the intention of the applicant is to implement the extant planning permission. Therefore, taking into account the comments raised in support of serving a Tree Preservation Order on the tree in question, and the amenity value of the tree and duty to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of this Conservation Area, it is considered that it is not expedient to serve a TPO.”

Campaigners including Dosh Archer (right) Photo Carl Hudson

Campaigner Dosh Archer, who has been drawing up a legal case, said: “Given that Thanet District Council have declared a Climate Emergency it is shocking news that they have sanctioned the destruction of one of the last remaining healthy trees in Old Town Margate. “It is even more shocking when you consider that Thanet has one of the lowest street coverages in the country at just 4.4%.

“We will now step up our legal campaign to hold Thanet District Council accountable for both the destruction of the tree and the misuse of public funds regarding the community garden.”


  1. Why does this council not listen to the people ,don’t forget it will soon be polling day !!!your shortsightedness may come back to bite you on your car arses!!!!!!.

  2. Just shocking. Is there no-one in this council who has any spine to stand up and make a good rather than an expedient decision?

  3. These council officers are all mucked up in the head. The planning manager needs sacking as he has a desire to rid Thanet of all mature trees by looks of it in passing anything where investors want a development to be built. TDC are not playing by the rules of tree protection within conservation areas. This the only mature tree left in the old town is much more important to the community than another modern block of flats in the old town. I hope a legal claim is made against them for this. They should be ashamed of themselves for going against the community once again.

    • There are questions that need answering by TDC:
      Why was planning permission for a development offered on this site before being sold off in auction by TDC? Was this to realise a much higher price for the land than what would have been with the knowledge (not given in the sales details) of the tree being protected under Conservation Law? This fact should have been divulged before point of sale. The difference from the land estimate of £70,000 to purchase price being £270,000 with TDC having predetermined the higher price through having the permission attached is at least morally wrong if not criminal. This was not in the best interest of the town since a community garden had been promised long before the sale.
      There are too many dodgy deals going on which are not in the best interest of the residents. TDC say that some amenity value is attached to this tree is an understatement. The land should not have been put up for sale for development in the first place.
      Why was there

      • Why was there not even a desire by TDC to get the developer to plant new trees elsewhere? That is also a part of the Conservation regulations if a tree is to be felled. With less than 4% trees coverage in Thanet we are at the bottom 2% area for coverage in the whole country, Oh, I wonder why with this shower of fools handing out licenses to fell mature trees willy nilly.
        Sorry, that was my last comment on this hot topic!

  4. Just because you don’t like the decision doesn’t make it wrong. Good look with the legal action. Look on the bright side. Sycamores are an invasive species, like Japanese Knotweed.
    And the logs could be used in the ever popular wood burning stoves
    I was in Sandwich this morning. I noticed that a mature tree in the garden of the Bell Hotel was being cut down. There were no (small) crowds of protesters dressed as zombies or clowns. There was no protest at all.
    What it it about the residents of Thanet that provokes howls of anguish every time the Council makes any sort of decision, no matter what?

    • Probably because your not living in the real world! the people who voted should be listened to and our feelings not just brushed under the carpet,you are answerable to the electorate ,take notice of what they think or you could find yourself kicked out,with a bit of LUCK.

    • Your right Phyllis, I used to live in Folkestone, and Sycamores grew like weeds between there, and Hythe! Normally I would oppose the removal of the tree on the grounds that birds need it for homes, but so do people who have a greater need, so get rid of it!

  5. The ward councillors should’ve called this in to the planning committee if they were asked to by concerned residents. Both of them are cabinet members and senior labour councillors. Ironically both are standing in the forthcoming KCC elections. Vote wisely

  6. Phyllis – Perhaps because there already lots of trees, open spaces and a river very close to the Bell Hotel? And it was not on a plot which is going to be developed in an area with no other green spaces?

  7. Tree coverage in Thanet has been low for over 300 years. I expect historians and botanists could give several reasons for this.

    Tree coverage in seaside towns here, however, is much the same as in many other seaside towns,as a previous comment on another article regarding this particular tree said (I’ve forgotten the name of the commenter.)

    • Moses shipyard based in ramsgate and no doubt other boat builders, would have used Southwood, Northwood, Westwood for their work. Plus building thanet in its early days. World War 1 saw a massive reduction in the nations tree coverage. ( the troops left on wooden boats and returned in wooden coffins and were surrounded by the stuff inbetween).
      As a nation we’ve not valued woodland as a manged resource. (namely as it takes too long to realise a crop). Windsor castle famously had oaks planted whilst it was being built to provide timber in later years for repairs , which occurred after the fire.
      But the margate sycamore is nothing but a self seeded weed. Has no context in its location. And if by allowing it to be removed it contributed to the auction price paid then it was one of TDC ‘s better decisions, ( though no doubt the cash was frittered away for no tangible result)

        • No, just not someone fixated on weird notions of the supposed value of a tree, especially one that has no real context for its location. The actions at the old Laleham school site however were reprehensible but just reflects the willingnes of the great and good to ignore the promises made. But as we’ve seen in that case nothing was done and never will be.

  8. 1) Reply to Ms Quot _Maybe because it’s not in Thanet, and therefore out of Thanet Trees’ manor.

    2)Reply to LC- thanks for the info. And I agree with you(!!) about sycamore. OK in a large field, an invasive pest elsewhere. Like rhododendrons, Leyland cypress,etc etc.

  9. Such a Beautiful tree and home to many beautiful birds singing away.
    It will be tragic if this tree is destroyed.

    • Do get things in perspective. This is a fairly young sycamore tree which has seeded itself in an inconvenient urban spot. What was there before it ? Was it a building? As it is not going to be a garden the site may as well be used for housing.

  10. Such an ugly brown building is proposed !
    Maybe the plot, envelope of land could be utilised better. Trees dont pay rates or council tax.
    The tree was always doomed, tis all about income

    • Yep, then took a 3 year deal to provide a hostel in a listed building with just about zero insulation, so aside from damage to the planet , we’ll be paying the fuel bills.
      Also have a no insulation / double glazing policy for listed buildings (understandable for those of true historic value ,ie 2* and 1, but not for the run of the mill grade 2, )historic england encourage such works to suitable buildings on the basis that it is more likely to save buildings for future generations , make them cheaper to run, more comfortable to live in, and help the planet.
      But such joined up thinking evades TDC and the daft councillors that enjoy the posturing but don’t actually follow up with considered changes to policy.

  11. I think it’s funny so many people getting up set by an invasive non native weed tree, that has self rooted.

    Sycamore are one of the worst trees you can have in a town position you cant sit under, due the the sap falling like rain covering every in horrible sticky sap which than dust and dirt sticks to it. A truly horrible town tree.
    Sycamore are ok in a wooded area but do support much wildlife.

    Now if this was a native oak I would be backing the tree huggers 100 % , put not a self seeded weed tree.

  12. ffs a tree is a tree no matter what type and we need all the trees we can get in this miserable hole of a place if we were to get rid of everything non native where would that leave us?

  13. Leylandii, when planted responsibly, provides wildlife habitat, brilliant pollution uptake, wind and sound insulation. It photosynthesises too. Don’t believe everything you read in the Daily Mail.

    • I never read the Daily Mail. I googled “leyland cypress “- but why would I look at newspapers when there are much more reliable sources?

  14. Leylandii, shallow rooting , ofter little to the wildlife. Not a town tree.

    I have nothing against trees, but you simple cant have woodland trees like a sycamore in town. It brings nothing to a town. It’s a dirty tree with its horrible sap. Supports little wildlife. Self seeds every where. It’s a weed tree in the a town. It drops 10’s of thousands of seeds every year which get everywhere.

    That area where the tree is is unusable by anyone, due to the sap and dirt that comes of sycamore.

    If you are going to fight to save trees, pick the ones worth saving , not weed trees.

    The reason thanet has a low tree count is because its coastal. You cant compare thanet to say Canterbury or any inland town. Coastal towns tend to have less trees due to the coastal salty winds and thin soil depths.

  15. Even if the site was to be turned into a garden I would take down the sycamore, and replant with few more town freely trees of the right size. A great big weed tree which it is wouldnt work in a small garden. You couldnt put benches or kiddies play things on there, you couldnt sit under it. Honestly a sycamore brings nothing to a town

  16. Thanet Council may have declared climate emergency but none of the tree’s planned for planting in Omer Avenue were Planted.

  17. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone criticising the cutting down of this tree actually went and planted one (or paid for one to be planted). You could demonstrate your enthusiasm for all things arboricultural by joining, for example, the Woodland Trust.
    If you like dressing up as a zombie, you could consider Thanet Trees.

  18. Andrew

    I have planted hundreds of trees thank you but only the correct species for the area.
    I dont know of anyone who plants this species of sycamore.

    • You and me both. Very pleased to hear it.
      Far too many people are quick to post messages here, slow to actually make a positive contribution to Thanet’s tree coverage.

  19. Also yet another big new build in old town…. Doesn’t fit in with anything around it and like when I lived in Duke Street no easy refuse, recycling amenities or though of the future.

  20. I can’t see the point of a self seeded sycamore in the town. It would be a different matter if we were talking about the plane tree outside the Bulls Head. I’m sure that there are plenty of self seeded sycamores in Fort Road yard that people can protest about once this tree is gone and the area tidied up.

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