Guinea Street tree felling

Update 12th July 2023

The application to fell a mature ash tree on Guinea Street has been refused. The reason given for the refusal is:

The reason provided for the removal of T1 is damage to nearby wall. The wall is clearly in poor condition, which is unrelated to the presence of the nearby tree. The wall should be repaired with the advice of a suitably qualified arboriculturalist.

Initial news item

Dr Hugh Pratt (through Branch Walkers Tree Services Ltd)  is seeking permission to fell another tree – the mature ash tree on Guinea Street opposite the Golden Guinea. This is his second application to fell this tree. The first, in 2013, was rejected. On that occasion the planning officer’s report stated that:

The ash has a high amenity value, being a medium sized tree that is clearly visible for the ascent up Guinea Street, which does not have any other trees. The tree also serves to screen the unattractive rears of the houses that front Jubilee Place. The tree is early mature, and has significant potential to grow into a much more significant specimen.

Click for larger image

In this second application the reasons given for felling this tree are that it has ash-dieback and is displacing the wall. In 2013 the condition of the wall was considered by the Planning Officer who concluded:  ‘if tree roots are having an impact, then a lintel or similar design could be incorporated to allow the tree to remain, at little extra cost’. The wall is in poor condition for much of its length and can be made good without felling the tree. Our image of the base of the tree gives little or no support to the view that the tree is responsible for the poor state of the wall.

If ash-dieback is present, it is not a sufficient reason to fell. We understand that the Council will arrange its own expert view on whether the tree’s condition requires it to be felled.  According to the UK government advice on die-back:

There is some evidence that ash trees growing in open, less humid locations such as streets and hedgerows may deteriorate more slowly or persist indefinitely. Some ash trees may have genetic tolerance to ash dieback, meaning they may survive and reproduce to create the next generation of ash trees.

We understand that by removing the tree Dr Pratt is clearing the way for his intention to build houses on this site. He withdrew his 2019 planning application to build 44 residential accommodation units in the former railway cutting overlooked by the tree. It seems we can expect more proposals for this historic railway cutting from Dr Pratt.

Dr Pratt’s application is dated mid February; the Council’s letter to residents is dated a month later, 14th March 2023. This letter was received by residents on 22nd March, with a requirement to respond by 28th March. Residents should have been given more time to respond to this application to fell a magnificent tree.

Comments can be submitted on the Council’s planning search page. The planning application’s number is 23/00620/VP.

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