Refusal of application to fell historic oak tree

Published Monday, 15 April 2019

An application to fell a protected mature oak tree situated adjacent to the junction of Mackintosh Street and Crown Lane has been refused by Bromley Council’s Planning Sub-Committee.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) are put in place to protect any type of tree that has a significant impact on its local surroundings and they preserve a number of mature trees features in the borough. The decision made to refuse the proposed felling of the mature oak tree, estimated at over 250 years old, has been made objectively by the council as well as receiving 260 local objections from local residents asking the council not to allow this historic feature to be felled. Although we are not responsible for the privately owned mature tree that has been protected for over 60 years, the application was refused in order to preserve the tree and encourage alternative methods be sought to manage it.

The application to fell the protected oak tree was a result of the applicant being served notice to take necessary steps to address the hazards posed to the public domain by the tree, and felling this tree was proposed as the safest and most cost-effective option. However, an application must be put in with permission granted before any work is carried out on a privately owned tree, and as this mature oak tree is a sole survivor of a group of trees protected under a blanket tree preservation order since 1952, it is protected from deliberate damage and destruction without permission from the council.

Councillor Richard Scoates, Chairman of the Planning Sub-Committee said “Trees play a massive part in how people view the borough, adding that little bit extra to make the borough a pleasant place to live, work and visit. This mature oak tree is a local historic landmark much loved by the local people. We are also privileged to have the most street trees out of all the London Borough’s and a landmark as such should be maintained opposed to felled”. 

The reason for the applicant proposing to fell the tree is because it was seen as the most cost-effective solution to address the risk to public safety. Enforcement action has been taken against the applicant by the council to address the dangerous condition of the tree by the removal of the deadwood and dead branches. This is all that is required to ensure the tree does not pose a risk to public safety, felling of the tree is not required at the present time as the enforcement notice served does not require tree felling as a course of action.

There has been nothing before the council that indicates an immediate risk of failure, however the risk of falling debris is not to be overlooked therefore the application has been refused to fell the tree already protected by TPO and an alternative to be requested, as the proposed felling of a mature oak tree valued at £121,973, has not been justified as a last resort. Alternative management options are available and need to be adopted ahead of tree felling, therefore the subject tree will be managed for retention.

Similarly to the hundreds of thousands of trees managed by the council across 1360 acres, permission will not be granted to fell a healthy tree, especially one with such historic value and a high amenity feature. Trees are important to the council and an important part of the environment, therefore permission will not be given.

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