Housing association Connexus had applied to fell five trees on Chandlers Close, off Lower Galdeford. Its view, and that of residents, was that the trees threatened properties, paths and a wall bordering the Ludlow Mascall Centre. Shropshire Council says that the two trees reported as threatening the wall are not a threat. It is the maintenance of the wall that is the issue. It accepts, it seems to me reluctantly, that the three trees near properties must be felled as they have grown to a size where they are difficult to manage on this site. It is urging Connexus to replace the trees. I agree with that.
Shropshire Council has said it has no objection to the felling of T3 (rowan), T4 (field maple) and T5 (birch) (19/03823/TCA). But it has refused permission for removal of T1 (maple) and T2 (birch) (19/03824/TPO). The trees come under two allied but different planning procedures. For trees T1 and T2 it had to decide whether to lift a tree protection order (TPO) on each tree. The other three trees do not have TPOs but are protected because they stand in the Ludlow Conservation Area. If the council does not want a tree in a conservation area to be felled, it must place a TPO on the tree within six weeks of the applicant giving notice on intent to fell. The council’s other option is to state “no objection”, which is the position it has taken to T3, T4 and T5.
Ludlow Town Council objected to both applications.
Shropshire Council’s tree team says that trees T3 and T4 are semi-mature. They could be retained for the longer term but would require ongoing regular management as the size and volume of their crowns increases. Already they must be managed to prevent damage to eaves. T5, a birch, is set further back from the properties and could be retained “for a period”:
“In all three cases it is likely that the proximity of the trees will have an ongoing influence on the residents of the nearby houses which place a question mark over the expedience of raising a TPO to protect them. The trees are only marginally visible and given that the amenity that the trees provide is primarily to the residents of Chandlers Close which is a cul de sac with no public thoroughfare and that the TPO’s trees (T1 & T2) screens the views T3 to T5 from the south while offering amenity in their own right, it is questionable in relation to the requirements for visual amenity what public amenity would be gained to the broader public through protecting these three trees.”
I am surprised that the report does not mention the growing damage to pavements – and eventually to three bungalows – from the roots of T4 and T5. The council wants replacement trees:
“While Shropshire Council considers in accordance with national and local aspirations that the loss of trees from town centres considers in accordance with national and local aspirations that the loss of trees within town centres is detrimental to the broader aspirations for a healthy and inviting urban space and provision of green infrastructure, we also acknowledge that such tree cover is cyclical in nature and as land managers the housing associations make management decisions that we would hope reflect their responsibility not just their residents but the broader communities from which their estate was derived. In the light of this Shropshire Council would press upon the housing association to play their part in this aspiration and consider replacement planting with new trees in order to perpetuate the many benefits offered by trees to the quality of life within the urban environment.”
National planning rules mean that the council cannot insist on a replacement tree (it can for trees that are subject to a TPO). This is one of the reasons tree cover in Ludlow’s conservation areas is declining. National guidance also does not include climate change as a reason for opposing felling.
I agree with the need for replacement trees. Chandlers Close will look denuded without the three trees that will now be felled. I will raise this with Connexus. It will be not difficult to select trees that will not grow tall or broad, perhaps because they are dwarfing stock.
TPOs protect T1 and T2. Connexus applied for these orders to be lifted but Shropshire Council refused. The council’s tree team says that Connexus has not provided any evidence about damage to the stone wall that bounds the Ludlow Mascall Centre’s car park. It also says that it observed no threat to the wall on a site visit. The team also notes that no repairs have been done to the wall since permission was given to fell an ash tree in November 2014. The officer report mistakenly says that no objection was received to the proposed felling of these trees. Ludlow Town Council had objected. But this error makes no material difference to the council’s decision as the trees cannot now be felled.