DC Casebook: Housing: New Build - Tree felling pressure concerns overruled

A development of 12 homes has been allowed in Surrey after an inspector ruled that the felling of a high-quality tree is justified to make more efficient use of the land.

The appellants argued that the mature oak had to be removed to enable provision of a new access road. The council claimed that the tree was of high quality and important in the local landscape. It also voiced concern that occupiers of some of the homes would ultimately apply to lop or fell other protected trees proposed for retention.

The inspector agreed that it would be desirable to keep the oak tree if possible. However, he agreed that only limited views of it were available from the public realm, with just the upper crown being directly visible. Its contribution to the local landscape and street scene was limited, he judged. Its loss would not materially harm the area's character and was justified by the need to make more efficient use of urban brownfield sites, he held.

He accepted that the position of one of the houses might lead future residents to seek to prune or fell some of the protected trees. However, he did not expect this to amount to irresistible pressure to fell the specimens in question because any such request would need to be formally considered by the council. It would then have the opportunity to assess the extent of the works and the trees' amenity value. In his view, careful pruning would overcome any concerns raised by future occupiers.

Inspector: Andrew Seaman; Inquiry.

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