Petition launched to save ‘magnificent’ Tadley oak tree
People do love their trees, especially when they are seen as a key part of the community, as seems to be the case in this situation in Tadley. Complaints about old and beloved trees being felled crop up fairly regularly in public life (we’ve seen several HS2 related cases in recent months), and the strength of feeling can often be surprising. In this case, the Council has launched a specific consultation on this tree, and no doubt it will receive many responses.
It’s not the first time that trees have come up in consultation of course, back in 2006 we saw the case of R (Hobbs) v Horsham District Council where Mrs Hobbs challenged the decision of the Council to rely on officers’ reports to make a tree preservation order for oak trees on her land. In this case, the claim was defeated and the tree preservation order was upheld on the basis that the council was entitled to rely on an officer’s summary, provided the summary covered all points of substance. Although the Horsham case very much represented the opposite situation (a stakeholder wanting to get rid of trees, rather than preserve them), it’s clear that trees can be an excuse, root-and-branch problem for consultors.
The Tadley case, however, might be an interesting one to watch for other reasons. The original reason for the proposal to fell the tree was because a house-owner reported that it was causing subsidence to their property. The Council’s response was to say that “we feel there has not been enough public consultation as to what might be causing the problem”. A question might fairly be raised as to whether a public consultation is really the best way to answer that conundrum. Would an inspection by a surveyor or similar expert not be a better approach to get a definitive answer? Is the council risking being caught between responses to a consultation, insisting on retention of the tree, and an additional finding that that tree is causing subsidence damage? If that were to occur, the Council may find themselves with an even more difficult balancing act to perform.
One important thing for decision-makers to remember, and steel yourselves because it might not be something you expect to hear from us, is that consultation is not necessarily always the answer, and in some case might lead to even more difficult decisions. It remains to be seen what will happen in this case, but it’ll be interesting to see how things proceed.
On 2nd December, the Institute’s Wednesday Wisdom session will be looking at recent Law of Consultation case law. WW sessions are free to members, and non-members can register for the session at this link.
A tree in Tadley is the subject of community concern this week, after plans to destroy it were revealed.
The oak tree, which is located on New Road, Tadley is planned for felling by the borough council, as it is causing “subsidence damage” to nearby homes.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough council have put their proposal to the people of Tadley for consultation.
Tadley Town Council wrote on Facebook: “Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is asking residents for their views before removing an oak tree from New Road in Tadley. The Council has been placed on notice that the tree, growing on the verge of New Road opposite the entrance to Pinehurst, is causing subsidence damage to nearby homes. If the tree is removed, the council plans to plant two native hornbeam trees as a replacement.”
Many residents have expressed their desire to save the tree, and a petition set up on Tuesday already has more than 300 signatures.
The petition reads: “Tadley has a wealth of trees, and is a characteristic which makes Tadley such a great place to live. Losing such a magnificent tree would have detrimental effects to biodiversity, animal habitat and appearance, as this tree stands alone and is a local landmark and heritage tree.
“Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council acknowledge that trees need to be a part of local planning, and so surely they should be protecting the trees we have rather than destroying them.
“A house owner has raised concerns that the tree is causing subsidence to his property, but we feel there has not been enough public consultation as to what might be causing the problem.
“We urge the council to do more research, make their findings public and save the new road oak for future generations. The loss of this tree would take years to recoup; the natural environment needs protection, not destruction.”
Article originally appeared on Basingstoke Gazette
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