Protected trees damaged by building work set to be felled

Posted On 10 Mar 2023 at 4:57 pm

A picture of the severed roots taken from council papers

A developer who damaged protected sycamore trees while building houses in Ovingdean has been given permission to chop them down – but must replace them.

Twelve trees next to the six new houses being built on land to the east of The Vale in Ovingdean have already been felled after succumbing to ash dieback.

Now, another six are set to go – five of which had their roots were severed by construction work, with the last expected to die too.

All 18 trees were subject to a group tree preservation order (TPO), although permission was granted for the felling of the 12 diseased trees.

In a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday, 8 March, it was agreed unanimously that developers will need to replace the lost trees with red maple trees and field maple trees.

Labour councillor Claire Moonan said: “However it has happened, those tree roots have been damaged, it would appear, irrevocably.

“It’s really infuriating. I think all of us here will feel desperately sorry about this.

“If this is all we can do to ensure that they replant the biggest young saplings that we can force them to, maybe that’s all we’re going to get out of a very, very sorry affair.”

Despite the TPO, a specific condition for tree protection measures was not formally included by the inspector who allowed the housing development on appeal after the council initially refused it.

Ovingdean Councillor Bridget Fishleigh said: “This used to be a strip of land which was full of mature trees, which were part of the wildlife corridor.

“The actions of this developer have altered the landscape for decades to come.

“Incidentally, residents do not agree that all of the trees that have been removed were diseased.

“With this application, the developer aims to legitimise what he has done.”

Breaching a tree protection order is a criminal offence, but any proceedings would be considered by the council separately to the application.

Green councillor Leo Littman asked council officers to clarify that any decision by the planning committee on the application to replace the trees would not impact upon any criminal investigation resulting from the breach of a TRO, which was confirmed.

Conservative councillor Carol Theobald said: “It is not good enough that they just get away with doing this because everybody else will do the same thing.

“It’s not good enough. We need something there to penalise them in some way.”

Labour councillor Daniel Yates said: “We’re losing enough trees in this city to ash dieback without losing the additional half dozen to carelessness, quite frankly, from developers and our own failure to recognise the potential impacts of development on the trees.

“I think we need to do better in the future.”

The housing development was originally refused by the Planning Committee in February 2017 but was allowed on appeal in November 2018.

The development will see a total of six three-bedroom houses built with detached garages and two detached single-storey outbuildings.

The housing developer listed on planning documents, Christopher Phillips of Boran Investments, was contacted for comment.

  1. Alan alan Reply

    Horrendous. Another disgrace of a land pig

  2. Benjamin Reply

    I think there is a real cause, generally speaking, for developers to have a penalty when corners and cut, damage occurs or promises aren’t met.

    If I acquired a parking ticket for going over, I can’t just pay the difference, I pay a substantially higher penalty. This mentality should carry over. Rather than simply replacing the trees, perhaps they should be made to fund additional green projects in the city as a penalty?

    Food for thought.

  3. Valerie Reply

    Property should be forfeit. That is the only way to stop the developer gamesmanship and destruction of irreplaceable mature trees and habitat as climate change and extinctions demonstrate how murderously evil they are. These developers are criminals IMHO.

  4. Peter Reply

    This is simply proof why the council are not fit to be in there jobs The builder should have a heavy fine and building permission should be cancelled at the same time they should be made to foot the bill to have the trees replaced

  5. Mr Andrew Camper Reply

    The whole development is based on greed not need and should never have been allowed. The houses start at nearly a million pounds a piece. We need starter homes and affordable homes not designer executive homes. We need to maintain our wildlife and trees and should only sacrifice them for need not greed.

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