Broadstairs councillors voice disappointment over approval for mature Turkey Oak fellings

Councillors Mike Garner and Ruth Bailey say the trees should not be felled

Two Broadstairs councillors have voiced their disappointment that permission has been granted to fell two Turkey Oak trees dating back to the Victorian era.

The application to chop down the trees at a property in Park Avenue was made at the request of the property insurers, Crawford and Company, following  reports of subsidence damage to parts of the house built in the 1970s.

The council’s previous Tree Officer Kevin Pressland, in his report on the two trees, said: “These trees appear in great condition and should be retained at all costs. Thanet has few Oaks of this ilk left. Whilst I have sympathy for the house owner the reality is these trees were there before the house and appropriate footings/pilings should have been put in at the time of the build. The nature of the soil as well should have alerted the structural engineers when building this property”

A number of homes in the area have been underpinned due to a watercourse.

There have also been reports of there being an old pond/watercourse in the same area and there have been a number of houses which have had to be underpinned because of this.

An application to fell an Oak tree at Broadstairs Cricket Club, about 100 metres away, for similar reasons was refused earlier this year following a campaign by residents.

The application to fell the two trees was recommended for refusal by Broadstairs Town Council and had five objections lodged against it at Thanet council.

However, Thanet council’s Building Control officer concluded the removal of the trees had been considered appropriately in relation to the damage caused and the damage likely to be caused by them to the building, and said the action was “accepted in this specific instance.”

The officer added: “I understand the objections to the applications as oaks can be quite stunning in appearance and considered an amenity. However, replanting might be considered using a low water demand tree/sapling.”

Broadstairs Green Party councillor Mike Garner said: “It was really disappointing to discover, in the same week that TDC issued their draft strategy to achieve net zero by 2030, that permission has recently been granted to fell these 2 magnificent Turkey Oaks.

“It feels like a real slap in the face for residents and others of us who have fought hard over the last couple of years, firstly to make sure that the Council took action following the felling of 40-plus trees in woodland in the Avenue by Parkstairs, which resulted in a replanting order being upheld at appeal in June, and secondly to campaign to save the 400 year old Oak tree at the cricket ground.

“We will continue to fight to preserve all trees in Park Avenue and across the whole of Thanet.”

Independent ward councillor Ruth Bailey said: “It is extremely disappointing that TDC have bowed down to an insurance company who have put pressure on the homeowners to remove trees as majestic and old as these two beautiful turkey oaks.

“Insurance companies are happy to collect payments but then endeavour to seek the easiest way out for them which may not even solve the problem. There is no concrete evidence that these two trees are causing the subsidence, in fact removing them could cause more problems through the heave effect.

“The turkey oaks are well over 100 years old and covered by a tree preservation order, they pre-date the houses which should have been constructed with deeper foundations to take account of the clay soil.

“The insidious removal of these trees in a parkland setting and which are older than all of us is very concerning and we must do everything we can to prevent any further loss of our green heritage.”