“Mark Chester gave evidence. He was a very impressive and authoritative witness.”
Mr J’s Defence Team
Mr J owns some land. Originally an industrial site, it has long-since been abandoned and is now covered by naturally colonising woodland. His neighbour owns part of the site. The local authority, seeking to protect the feature, made a ‘woodland’ Tree Preservation Order for the whole site. This protects the trees present at the time when the order was made, and those which have grown since. Mr J seeks to keep the site tidy, clearing fallen trees and branches.
Having a piece of machinery on trial, he was tidying fallen material, and offered to help his neighbour with some tree work. He didn’t contact the local authority, as he considered the work was exempt, the trees being dead, dying or dangerous. Unfortunately, he didn’t take any photographs. The local authority, finding fresh stumps and pruning cuts, decided that he had breached the Tree Preservation Order, and began proceedings towards a prosecution. The burden of proof lay with Mr. J to prove that the work was exempt. He needed some professional help.
During the first site visit following these developments, it was soon apparent that some of the trees were in decline. Cedarwood Tree Care surveyed all of the trees on the site over the following months, and monitored their condition. We also advised Mr J not to tidy fallen material. If his explanation was correct, we would expect to see a build-up of fallen material. Over the coming months, we observed that an increasing number of the surveyed trees had died.
The local authority presented their evidence. We weren’t convinced that their case was strong and found that the evidence on site was in line with Mr. J’s explanation. However, the case was pursued with some vigour and determination by the local authority. Cedarwood Tree Care was commissioned by the magistrates to provide a detailed expert report. This analysed the evidence presented by the local authority, and details of what we had observed on site over the subsequent months. The report ensured the magistrates would be informed in their decision-making. After a thorough three day hearing (including more than three hours in the witness box for our expert witness), the magistrates concluded that there was no case to answer, dismissing the charges against Mr J.
TREE PROTECTION ORDER (TPO)
“I had two protected Lime trees in my garden, one of them was overwhelming my home. With a detailed technical report to support an application, Cedarwood Tree Care helped me to get permission to manage the trees. This included replacing one with a more appropriate specimen in a new position.” Mr. L
Mrs. L has been trying to deal with the challenges that can be faced when dealing with a home that has been owned by a relative but is now vacant. She was seeking to get permission to convert derelict outbuildings of the listed manor house which needs considerable renovation, and has gardens containing overgrown trees and shrubs. The local authority then requested a survey of trees within the gardens and a landscape scheme to reassure that the setting would not be affected. We were able to provide this, liaising with the local authority to ensure a quality landscape scheme and proportionate tree retention. Permissions have been secured and the project is now progressing.
When Mr. H cut down some conifers on his boundary, having checked with his neighbour that this was acceptable, little did he realise the problems this would cause him. Later on, his neighbour’s widow realised that the trees had been on her land. She sought significant compensation, presumably to replace the conifers. A quotation for supply and planting of replacement trees was presented to Mr. H. It was substantial. He sought guidance to enable an informed response. We identified that the proposed replacements were more substantial that the trees removed. Indeed, the proposed replacements would have needed a crane to lift them in to their new positions, and the site could not accommodate this.
We provided Mr. H. with a detailed expert report, to enable him to make an informed defence, and supported him during mediation. Using the CTLA Replacement Tree Method, we identified that the trees could be replaced for considerably less than was being sought, and the claim was unreasonable. This including appraising the condition of the trees that had been removed; the new trees would improve the situation considerably, which was not a proportionate outcome if it was at Mr. H’s expense.
When Mr. Collins acquired a redundant hospital site, planning to regenerate it, he hadn’t even heard of a BS5837 report and the issue of trees wasn’t a factor being considered. However, not only is the site within a Conservation Area, but some of the trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, and could not be removed without the permission of the local authority. Whilst many of the trees are of little amenity value, some are valuable and the regeneration needs to be designed to accommodate their retention. In addition, conservation issues such as bats, and landscape heritage, need to be factored in to the proposal.
We arranged for the trees to be surveyed, so that the architects could provide informed plans, and guided Mr. Collins as he negotiated with the local authority seeking approval for his prestigious plans. This has included aspects of design to ensure a quality environment for future residents. And we produced a detailed BS5837 report to accompany the planning application