A Ramsgate councillor is calling for a rethink on plans to fell a large Sycamore tree in Addington Street/Nelson Crescent.
Cllr Becky Wing managed to halt workmen from bringing the tree down yesterday (June 21) and says there had been no notification to residents or councillors about the plans.
Cllr Wing says the tree, which is the only mature tree in the street, is an important site for birds and cutting it down during nesting season would likely be illegal.
She said: “I asked if they were aware the tree is in a conservation zone and they showed me the paperwork from Thanet council which does seem to give permission. “However, given I walk along this road and Nelson Crescent, there appears to have been no ‘notices’ posted on lampposts to inform residents. This was confirmed by a number of residents I spoke to, living close by, who have also seen no notices and are now shocked at the decision to fell.
“I have been back through the regular notices we receive from planning as I am certain I would have picked up on this one given it is a significant tree in the area and much loved by locals. The application TCA/TH/22/0524 was received by TDC on 11th April and was not on the notices I received as a ward councillor on 11 April, 19th April, 25th April or 3rd May.
“The Tree Officer Report confirms the following, despite then sadly recommending felling. He states the tree is ‘visible along Addington Street’ and is ‘locally prominent’. Further adding it is a ‘reasonably distinct feature of the street scene’.
“It is a key feature of our street and an important site for birds and given we are in the nesting season, it would have been irresponsible and possibly illegal to fell it now, as birds regularly use it as the only mature trees in the area.”
Cllr Wing says although the town council did not call the application in to be discussed, officers were unaware that ward councillors had not been informed.
The tree is being felled on behalf of Sanctuary Housing, which says in its application: “It’s overshadowing small gardens and causing structural damage to the boundary wall due to the close proximity.”
The Tree Officer report says: “As a mature tree, it has developed a large, spreading crown and appears to be growing to almost entirely cover a small courtyard area to the rear of the property.
“The tree is growing immediately adjacent to a tall brick boundary wall. Although not significant at present, there are cracks developing in the wall in the immediate vicinity of the tree.
“Only significant crown reduction would make much difference to the overhang and, if the tree survived such drastic works, would need to be repeated on a regular basis to manage re-growth and the likely structural issues resulting from the creation of large cuts to the framework of the tree.
“However this management would not stop the incremental growth in the circumference of the main stem of the
tree, leading to further and on-going damage to the boundary wall.
“Despite the contribution the tree makes to the visual amenity of the immediate area, on balance, I do not
therefore consider it appropriate to retain this tree and recommend that it would not be expedient to make a
Tree Preservation Order in this case.”
Cllr Wing said: “I feel the proper process has not been followed which would have allowed ward councillors and, more importantly residents, the chance to comment on something which is an important aspect of their community.”
Cllr Wing added that the felling team were going to bring the tree down but the street is narrow and, she believes, a road closure would need to be in place to carry out the work safely.
However, a Thanet council spokesperson said damage to the wall has outweighed the significance of retaining the tree.
The spokesperson added: “The tree in question is in the Ramsgate Conservation Area, and is impacting on a Grade II listed wall. Having sought professional advice which advised against placing a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on the tree, no TPO was made. This means the tree is not protected and works to fell it can go ahead, subject to legislation on the protection of wild birds as is set out in The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
“We do understand the value of mature trees in the district, including where trees are in conservation areas and are integral to the street scene. In this instance however, the adjacent Grade II listed wall is of significant importance to the conservation area.
“We do not issue notification letters for works to trees within a Conservation Area. Although there is no legislative requirement to do so, we do publish information on our website and put up a site notice.
“The contractor is responsible for taking any necessary safety measures in relation to works carried out.”
Sanctuary say due to the concerns raised they will pause the work to allow for further discussion.
A spokesperson for Sanctuary said: “In early April, our tree surgeon put forward formal notice to Thanet District Council to remove the tree due to the structural damage it is causing a nearby boundary wall. This wall is starting to present a real risk to public safety.
“While no issues were raised within the required 6-week period after the notice was put in, following local concerns expressed this week, we have decided to pause the work to allow for further discussions.”