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.”

31 Comments

  1. Erm.
    Shouldn’t this possibility have been discussed before the then Planning Department first issued Planning Permission? Surely any legal or financial liabilities are borne by T.D.C?

    • Peter absolutely if the insurance company will not cover the house someone must have done before as its been built close enough to the trees why all of a sudden there is a problem with it?? My guess it is down to the lack of waterfall for a long time and ground shrinkage is the problem has all the tests been done as this building may well be be over an existing expanding sinkhole.? Why is it that nature has to be /take the blame, no knock the house down and rebuild in the proper way with correct foundations..

    • That’s a bit extreme. Deeper footings, via underpinning, should settle the building. I’ve had it done successfully in a previous property I owned. The trouble is that it’s cheaper for the insurance company to ask for the trees to be cut down than to pay for underpinning. The removal of these magnificent trees could actually cause further problems to the house through an effect called heave.

      • Heave is when the land rises. Remove the tree the roots rot thus creating subsidence. It has not helped with the lack of rain hence the tree’s have taken all of the water out of the soil creating subsidence.

  2. It’s so ironic that TDCs new carbon net zero plan recommends planting woodlands to offset the Council’s own carbon footprint.

    Meanwhile, somewhere else in TDC towers, someone makes this decision.

    Bigger picture thinking never was one of their strengths.

  3. It was the builders responsibility to take due care and responsibility. This would then be followed by the builders insurers followed by the home owners insurers. all of whom accepted the liability. I totally agree with previous comments it will be the building insurers responsibility to underpin the building with the homeowner paying the now common £1,000 excess. As the tree’s were in situ before the house/s were built there is no liability on the council.

    • “At all costs”

      Okay, provide me with an equal replacement property, pay for me to move and then buy the plot of land my house was on. Then you can do protect your trees.

  4. I nearly bought a house in Park AVE some 25years ago, it had a huge Oak tree in the front garden, inside the house there was a crack about an inch wide running from the floor downstairs to the ceiling upstairs, our surveyors told us there is a belt of clay running beneath Park avenue which causes a lot of subsidence!

  5. Oh Lord…..when will be learn…..when? When every tree is lost ? We are so so short of mature trees …..its sacrilege to.remove it, it really is. Plus if removed there is very little assurance the house will remain unaffected; so what a loss with no guarantee whatsoever to the house in question! These are old trees…..TDC cannot pledge a climate emergency and KEEP removing trees … and mature trees are sacred ! TDC suck big time!

    • “Sacrilege”? I really don’t think so. When I see lots of local people restoring front gardens from hard-standing all over to real gardens, then perhaps I’ll feel more sympathetic to people who seem to think, judging by their comments on this site, that absolutely every tree is a) in the right place and b) really good for our native wildlife.

      • Err, I think the tree was there first !!!! And have you not noticed that our tree cover in Thanet is appalling low……less than 4% ? Are you another who really doesn’t actually give a fig about climate change….because if you’ve got children they’re gonna feel it and see its consequences everywhere alright!

        • Ms Garfield – I am very concerned about climate change. My garden is tiny but I have planted three trees, as well as filling it with mainly native plants; I have never owned a car ,and can’t drive; I have not been in a plane for ever 40 years.

          The tree cover in Thanet has been low since the beginning of the 19th century at least. I do not think Thanet District Council is entirely to blame for that.

  6. Typical of TDC allow developers to cut down well mature woodlands such as poor hole lane net zero carbon is just a few words to hide behind

    • May

      Net zero carbon, we might as well give up on thanet as the government what to open a dirty cargo hub in thanet. So it doesnt matter how many trees are planet or you meeting net zero carbon targets. Every 15 minutes a dirty plane flys over and hundreds of HGV will be on our roads.

      TDC arent serious about net zero carbon targets hence support of an airport and of housing development.

    • May

      TDC refused the development of Poorhole Lane, HMG Inspectorate overturned their decision and approved it.

  7. Perhaps the one nearer the house could be cut down and the other one left. (Or are they at equal distances from the house?)

  8. I will support the cutting down of the horrible invasive sycamore trees all day long. But all oaks are beautiful and support a large amount of wildlife.

    It is a disgrace that TDC have agreed with an insurance company. Why ? So the insurance company doesnt have to pay out ? What has an insurance company paying out got to do with TDC ? Something smells about this.

    TDC should tell the insurance company the tree is stay and the problem is between them and their clients.

    Why are TDC listening to an insurance company ? This really doesnt make sense

  9. Living in this area I know other home owners have had subsidence and yes the trees have previously been blamed. Why has the insurance company got away with not underpinning this property where other houses in the area have had this successfully carried out? Cutting down these beautiful trees is not the answer TDC or is there another motive behind it???? Just a thought!!!

  10. Sanda G

    Exactly why are TDC giving in to the insurance company ?

    Just pay your clients and underpin the house.

    Something doesn’t seem right here I might be adding 2+2=5.

  11. Could the legal dept at TDC be thinking that the Insurance Company could make a claim against them as they own the land and the tree’s for which damage has been caused to their insured’s property. In these days of financial constraint Insurance companies are looking to save as much as possible. The cost of underpinning and potential cost of rehoming the family whilst building works takes place will be expensive. Anything the insurance company can claw back from third parties (TDC) would be beneficial. However, the damage has already been caused and the insurers have accepted liability. Taking the footings down 2 mtrs below the existing would solve the problem.

  12. Disgusting leave the trees alone I thought we were planting more not cutting them down for no good reason my neighbours just cut down a massive oak I tried to stop it but it’s in his garden apparently he now has more light I can’t really see how we have lost birds and wildlife but as long as he has light what can I say there are no words as long as we have people like him nature has no chance

  13. Same old TDC – say one things then do the opposite and make excuses!
    A bunch of clueless incompetents – when will the new chief executive get a grip?

  14. For everyone who agrees that the loss adjusters should pick up the bill for the underpinning and leave the trees alone – please try emailing to the CEO [email protected]
    Perhaps with a wave of email complaints they may reconsider. Crawford is the largest underwriter in the world and currently has the poorest record for customer satisfaction (according to Trust Pilot – reviewed yesterday). The home owners do not want the trees felled – they want their house repaired – and entitled to it through their insurance.

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