• Councillors to inspect land where developer felled dozens of trees before submitting application

    9th June 2014 | News | Claire
  • West Hill resident, Jessica Bailey, residents association chair, Dr Margaret Hall and I, argued at last week’s planning committee meeting that the application should be rejected on the grounds of over-development.

    We enlightened councillors about the destruction of the many trees and argued that the two veteran oaks at the very least, which formed part of West Hill Road’s character, should be replaced with semi-mature oaks.

    Planning committee chair, Cllr Helen Parr, told me that there were no grounds to request replacements because the felled trees had not been legally protected. This was extremely frustrating and I replied that the planning committee could request such conditions if they wished. I raised the issue of new planning guidance which was more protective of trees than had been previously.

    Cllr Mike Howe proposed a site inspection before any decision was made and councillors unanimously voted in favour.

    Developer Hugo Headon, from H&H Prestige Homes proposes to build two large bungalows in the back garden. 

    Jessica Bailey is concerned about the risk to the roots of a protected veteran oak in the grounds of Lark Rise next door.

    Last October, mature trees in the back garden of Crantock and the two veteran oaks on the access were ruthlessly ringbarked and felled. By the time the alarm was raised by residents, it was too late. Nothing could be done to save the trees.

    A week or two later I received a letter from Mr Headon’s solicitors threatening me with legal action because I had stated in my blog post that the veteran oaks on the access were healthy. Mr Headon said his tree surgeon told him that one tree was becoming a “serious danger” and would not live for more than about 10 years, and the other tree would not live for more than about 20 years.

    However ….. EDDC’s tree officer took a different view and stated that the veteran oaks would have lived for at least another 100 years!

    Councillors will gather at Crantock on West Hill Road this Friday morning to view the application site and then decamp back to the Knowle to make a decision on whether or not to approve the application.

    West Hill is a woodland village and has many lovely important trees. We are currently trying to work out how best to protect them.

    Here’s an account of the sad events that led up to this application being submitted – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/west_hill_killed_oaks_would_have_lived_for_another_100_years

    Photograph: The aftermath of felling the veteran oaks last October.