A row has broken out about woodland off Park Avenue in Broadstairs with a residents group claiming trees in a TPO area have been cut down while the landowner has denied this and lodged a police complaint about trespass on the site.
In 2020 Thanet council served a tree replacement order on Parkstairs Ltd over the removal of some 40 trees from the area of woodland.
Following complaints from residents and the Park Avenue Woodland Group (PAWG), council officers carried out an investigation in March of that year and found that two tree preservation orders were in place and that 11 of the felled trees were protected. It is a criminal offence to undertake unauthorised works to a protected tree.
Last year the Planning Inspectorate dismissed an appeal by Parkstairs meaning the order to plant 11 replacement trees on the site was still valid. Parkstairs say this planting is taking place now and a Thanet tree expert is undertaking the work.
Tree warden Karen McKenzie and PAWG say fencing erected at the site is also causing issues.
She said: “The fencing contractor has erected fences all around the site and has said to members of the group that this is in preparation for a new planning application. To date, an application has not been submitted.
“The fencing also does not allow for the footpath through the perimeter of the wood to be taken any more and this may be in breach of the existing definitive footpath. KCC footpaths are being advised of this.”
However, Parkstairs say the land is private and no rights of way have been blocked.
Bernard Benn, on behalf of the company, said: “No trees have been felled on the site. The newly erected fence is not cutting off any rights of way. The 11 trees under the replanting order are in the process of being planted now. We haven’t removed any trees but have picked up all the fly-tipping left by local residents.
“In the last week the fencing has been damaged and removed twice and people have trespassed on the site and this is now in the hands of the police.”
PAWG says it is lobbying for the area to be redesignated with individual tree TPOS and Group TPOs, which are legally stronger and easier to defend than an Area TPO.
Thanet council notified
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of the situation and are currently investigating whether any further trees have been removed, and if so, whether they were protected.
“The council takes the protection of trees very seriously. Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, there is a duty requiring landowners to replace a tree removed, uprooted or destroyed in contravention of an Order. Anyone found guilty in the Magistrates’ Court of an offence under section 210(4) is liable to a fine of up to £2,500.”