16 ‘low value’ willow trees to be felled
PUBLISHED: 12:27 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:31 29 October 2020
More than 60% of the trees in a conservation area in Needham Market could be felled after they were deemed not suitable for protection orders.
Plans to remove the trees from a conservation area on land near School Street reignited a battle between neighbours and developers over the future of the site - which is said to provide a “green lung” within the area.
The section 221 application was submitted to notify council officers of the planned work in September.
The application gives the council an opportunity to prevent work on trees which qualify for tree protection orders (TPO).
On this occasion, as none of the trees were classes as “suitable” for protection orders, the council has raised no objection to the work, which would see 16 of the 27 cracked willow trees felled.
Needham Market Town Council clerk Kevin Hunter said that the work may be being done with a future housing development in mind.
He said: “The issue is, unfortunately the trees don’t really have any value as such, and are certainly not appropriate for the placement of any TPOs.
“That is obviously disappointing from the point of view of members of the public and the council.
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“One of the expectations of the public was that the town council can enforce.
“But as we are not a planning authority we have no enforcement powers on this application.
“It is disappointing. It is an important tiny green lung in the town, and they are few and far between.
“It is in the conservation area and that word speaks for itself. It’s there to be conserved.
“I would imagine that work will start as soon as the application is resolved and that is with the expectation that it’s going to be followed by an application for housing.”
While Mid Suffolk District Council raised no objection to the work, they did instruct the developer G&K Groundworks to carry out visual bat surveys to ensure that any mitigation work is carried out if the trees are felled.
A spokesman from Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “We remain committed to preserving trees where possible, and require applicants looking to carry out works to trees in conservation areas to provide at least six weeks’ notice to the council.
“This allows our specialist officers time to assess whether we need to impose a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to protect any trees in good or fair condition, with a useful life expectancy, that may bring significant benefit to the character or appearance of a local area.
“Unfortunately, on this occasion the willow trees in question have been identified as being in poor condition, meaning that a TPO would not be suitable, and so our council has no grounds to object to the proposed felling works.”
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