Application Details

Reference 19/05705/VP
Address Coombe Rocke West Rocke Avenue Bristol BS9 2AN  
Street View
Proposal T1 Wellingtonia Giant Redwood - Fell TPO 1083/R
Validated 25-11-19
Type Tree Preservation Order
Status Decided
Determination Deadline 20-01-20
Decision REFUSED
Decision Issued 13-02-20
BCC Planning Portal BCC Planning Portal
Public Comments Supporters: 0 Objectors: 20    Total: 20
No. of Page Views 0
Comment analysis   Date of Submission
Nearby Trees Within 200m

BTF response: OBJECT

This tree is mapped on Trees of Bristol

This Giant Redwood Is one (T3) of a group of five trees protected by Group TPO 1083/R which was confirmed in November 2008. It is located on the southern end of what appears to be a garage, which Planning evidence suggests was built within its root zone some time in the 1960s. It is very likely that the trees roots were damaged during construction of both the garage and the house to the west of it. Despite this, the tree has survived for over fifty years.

The tree has a mean diameter of 1.4 metres (based on the measurement made in May 2019). This gives it a CAVAT value of £261,260. The tree is highly visible from Coombe Lane and West Coombe and from the surrounding area generally, so has a high public visual amenity. Given this, it is surprising that the views of the surrounding neighbourhood about this application are not being sought.

Given its status, the applicant has, we suggest, to discharge a high burden of proof to justify the destruction of this tree. The applicant has failed to do this.

The incomplete arboricultural report (we invite the applicant to disclose the full report, especially as the report disclosed refers to sections that are missing) relied on is, at best speculative.

The nature of the bark of this species makes mallet tapping of little value. All the other invasive tests found no evidence of decay or any other defects. No evidence is given as to the significance, if any, of the ‘unusual, pronounced vertical ribbing’ found or why ‘long sections of the bark between the ribs appear sunken and depleted’.

The use of Google Map Streetview images has little if any diagnostic value. The quality of the six images of the tree from Coombe Lane to the north of the tree taken between 2008 and 2015 is variable with some sections out of focus or over exposed given the brightness of the southern sky beyond the tree.

The four images between 2009 and 2015 taken from West Coombe are slightly better and do indeed show a lean (not measured in the report) in the tree towards the north east but we can see little if any evidence of dieback in either set of images and there is little if any evidence that we can see that the tree has declined in this period.

The presence of a ‘pronounced buttress to NE’ suggests that the lean is of longstanding and the tree has compensated for it. There is no evidence that the lean is either recent or progressive.

The speculation about pathogens is just that, speculation. No evidence has been found of any disease.

All trees have a risk of sudden failure, either in whole or in part, and of causing ‘serious harm’ thereby. There is not evidence that the risk of this is any greater in this tree than is normal.

If the tree is indeed in decline, then there is no reason why this cannot be conservatively managed pro tem. If limbs are found to be at risk of failing then they can be cut back or, if necessary, removed.

The applicant has failed to show that there is any reason why this tree needs to be felled now.

Public Comments

on 2020-01-20   OBJECT

I object to the felling of this magnificent tree on environmental grounds and those ofvisual amenity. Trees must be protected not chopped down, especially at a time of climateemergency. Let Bristol City Council live up to its pledge to double tree canopy by 2050.

on 2020-01-12   OBJECT

I am the tree champion for Sneyd Park Residents association and have been in thatcapacity for a period of 12 years in total. The BS9 area of Bristol has unfortunately undergonemany years of inappropriate felling of trees to make way for more houses and development andthis has not always been given due consideration for the affect that it has had on the area not justfor canopy cover but also for the impact on wildlife which lives within the area. Many trees havebeen felled with a veil of defence by developers that more trees will be planted when each andeveryone of us knows that small tree replacements will never replace large mature specimens thattake more than a life time to grow. This is in my opinion a nil argument and one which has to beexcluded from any real consideration. What concerns me with this arboral report is that the focusis on root damage and tree canopy reduction and deterioration. I have examined many trees whichwere dying and potential safety risk but this is not one of them. In Bristol most trees ( particularlystreet trees) survive within a few yards of building development and that is what comes with citylife. I have been amazed in the past at how resilient some trees are to buildings placed within theirspace but thrive anyway.This tree on my visit had no signs of canopy damage or reduction and throughout its height ofsome 60/80 feet it appeared completely sound. The trunk was complete with no bark die back orflaking and had a healthy colouration. I did not drill down into the root area but if the tree aboveground is healthy often the root is also healthy. I would expect to see adverse signs otherwise.The tree subject of this application has huge visual ammenity being visible from surrounding roadsincluding coombe lane and is therefore to be given extra consideration. This type of tree is iconicand rare within BS9 area as well as Bristol and because of its slow growing time cannot bereplaced within two/three generations. This again Must be given special consideration.If this tree is considered a serious safety risk then I would support appropriate action but it is mycontention that this is NOT the case and if the persuasion is to fall with the applicant I would askfor a further expert report before a final decision is taken.

I submit this report for consideration and assessment against known facts so that a clear andaccurate decison can be made.

on 2020-01-06   OBJECT

I think it is essential that a second opinion from an accredited arborist is sought beforesuch a mature historic tree is felled. The council is planning to plant new trees, but it seems evenmore important to me that we should be maintaining historic mature trees.

on 2020-01-05   OBJECT

King's College research scientists calculated that 5 people a week are dying in Bristolfrom air pollution - hence radicle measures like the proposed diesel ban. Marvin Rees himselfsaid: "We have a moral, ecological and legal duty to clean up the air we breathe. This researchemphasises how vital it is that we act quickly to improve health and save lives in Bristol."How then can it be moral, ecological or legal to cut down a healthy tree?The planning department need to automatically reject planning applications including the cuttingdown of healthy, mature, trees unless absolutely necessary.

on 2020-01-04   OBJECT

Why cut down a perfectly healthy tree when we need more trees not less?

on 2020-01-03   OBJECT

Urban trees have never been more vital for the environment than at the present time. Istrongly object to cutting down the subject Red Cedar.

on 2020-01-03   OBJECT

There seems to be a serious outbreak of dendrophobia in this neighbourhood in recenttimes. We tree-loving neighbours are counting on the BCC to uphold all existing Tree PreservationOrders by denying any unreasonable requests to interfere with or fell sound, protected trees. Thisis particularly important now it has become clear that the planting of millions of trees could help inthe battle against climate change.

on 2020-01-03   OBJECT

Veteran trees are a community and national resource and need to be treated as such.Mitigating the risks arising from the potential damage done to the tree by developers needs to takeinto account the value of the tree; and the developers need to be held to account and to pay forthe risk mitigation so that the tree can continue to provide its irreplaceable ecosystem.

on 2020-01-03   OBJECT

It seems indefensible that, in a so called "green city" that Bristol is supposed to be,consideration is being given to cutting down mature trees especially ones that are relatively rare inour area and are of some historic value. As such, I support the comments made by the BristolTree forum and our local tree champion and object to this application.

on 2020-01-01   OBJECT

This tree is a major member of the historic tree group in the Coombe Lane area, clearlyas recognised by its TPO status. It may well be true that its health has been compromised by thebuilding of the flats and (especially) the garages in its root zone. However, we should expect thePlanning Department to take a very conservative approach to this irreplaceable (within ourlifetimes) asset. If, after an independent assessment of the tree's condition (by a specialist notpaid by the applicant who wishes it felled), its condition does give cause for concern, then weshould expect pruning to be considered as the first option and felling only as a very last resort.

I note that the applicant is the Management Company and I conclude they are looking for a "quickand dirty" solution to a perceived liability problem. It's probable they would incur lower costs fortheir clients, the flat owners, if they bothered to look at an appropriate visit by tree specialists forpruning, rather than the vandalism of felling. The cursory way the application has been made, withonly partial documentation, seems indicative of a remote and disinterested applicant, who shouldbe robustly challenged to provide complete documentation including a pruning option.

In its current form, the application should be entirely rejected.

on 2019-12-31   OBJECT

This is an iconic tree and should certainly NOT be felled. It probably needs aprofessional prune, which costs money, and the owner does not want to take the responsibility forit. However, it was there long before he was, and he should set up to his responsibilities. It is abeautiful tree, can be seen from quite a distance, and it is a landmark it our all-too concretelandscape.

Please reject this application to fell this tree.Thank you.

on 2019-12-29   OBJECT

Wellingtonia Giant Redwoods can live for 3500 years.

It is likely this tree was planted about 150 years ago, probably by someone who wanted manygenerations of her descendants to enjoy it.

But about 50 years ago there appears to have been a shameful decision made to allow a block offlats to be built much too near this tree, undoubtedly causing damage to the root system.

Even worse there appears to have been, in my opinion, a criminal decision made to allow a blockof garages to be built about 1m from the trunk of the tree.50 years later the prospect of this tree surviving into the next millennium is looking somewhatbleak.

A terrible indictment on the planners and builders responsible!

What to do now?

Firstly, we need to see the full arboricultural report, not just a section of it.

Then we need an independent report as a second opinion because the first one fails todemonstrate that it is necessary to fell the tree.

Then what?The tree still has some vitality left.Give it a chance to see if it can survive the next 50 years I say, rather than wiping it out now just

when the world needs every tree it can get:to combat global warming,to preserve our dwindling biodiversity,to resist the onslaught of the built environment at the expense of our natural world.

I vote we keep this tree to wait and see what happens.If individual branches die and look likely to fall then remove them. The tree itself appears robustenough to stay upright for decades to come.Let it be!

on 2019-12-28   OBJECT

The Giant Redwood Tree, planted in the grounds of (demolished) Coombe RockeHouse was possibly part of numerous arboreal acquisitions for Stoke Lodge (members of the Fryfamily lived in both houses) as well as many other specimens in neighbouring villas of that era.There are several early photographs featuring the then gateway to the old house with the maturetree clearly visible in the background. It still stands on a large plot of undeveloped groundsadjacent to the (1970's) flats but despite claims by the applicant, some distance from any "highvalue" property. Equally, the tree appears to be in fine-fettle but if there is an arboreal issue theremust be a proper assessment before yet another landmark tree is removed from this street scene.

on 2019-12-28   OBJECT

When so many trees and open air spaces are at risk in Bristol I find it unacceptable thatsuch an important specimen tree should be considered for felling or deliberate damage. The giantredwood tree a as species hangs on for survival in National Parks in the USA. We have a few inthe UK often grown in the Victorian era. Surely such a rare and venerable tree should be protectedin a self-declared 'green' city such as Bristol? I think it would be totally unreasonable that such atree should be knowingly damaged.

on 2019-12-28   OBJECT

The tree has high amenity value for the area. I am looking at the top as I write from myhouse window. It is a clear enhancement to the amenity of the whole surrounding neighbourhood.

The assessment provided by the applicant is less than positive in any direction. Any tree has the"potential" to cause damage through falling branches etc; but has this tree really reached thestage where the "potential" damage is so great as to outweigh its considerable amenity value (asrecognised by the TPO)? It does not appear to be so damaged that some judicious pruning wouldreduce any immediate danger of falling branches, leaving the main structure of the tree to continueto provide pleasure to the area's views.

No consideration appears to have been given to some sort of pruning - the tree assessmentappears to jump immediately to immediate felling. What does the Council's tree expert say?

The tree should be retained unless it is so immediately dangerous as to cause a serious hazard tolife and limb (not just the odd roof tile).

on 2019-12-27   OBJECT

This is my second comment. Following direct contact from some residents I madeanother visit to take a further look and consider some of the points they were making.I doubt very much that this is an application preceding an application to build on the cleared spaceat a later date - unless there is a plan to demolish the garages at a later date and develop thelarger plot of land thus created. But we are always watchful.I am not going to comment on the health of the tree - this is beyond my expertise - save that thetree does not look dead.What has staggered and angered me is the proximity of the garage block to this tree! It has takenme 48 hrs to calm down before writing this comment. How on earth did the developers of this siteget permission to build so close to such an important and impressive tree? It is unfortunate thatthe planning documents for the original application are not available for us to form an opinion.Thus we cannot see if there were planning conditions for the garages to be built on some kind of"floating" platform. But even so one has to wonder if even that could have been sufficientprotection. It seems to me that the health of this tree has been affected by something, and theproximity of a building and the possibility that there was digging amongst its roots has to be calledinto question, unless and until the planning documents for the era proving otherwise can beproduced and another credible cause given in evidence. Even if there are pathogens as the cause,speculated by the arboriculturist reporting for the Applicant, often pathogens are opportunistic andonly attack already ailing organisms. Might the Council have those documents?If it is the building and digging that has caused the impairment then it is a lesson to all thoseresponsible - look at this example of what happens when digging amongst the roots of treesoccurs.

Hence the British Standard regulation BS 5837:2005. In this standard the Root Protection Area is12 x the diameter of the tree's trunk at 1.5 metres above the ground. It may be possible to lay adriveway for light vehicles or path within such a zone, but not dig foundations. For older trees the

Root Protection Area may need to be increased. I could not measure this tree's trunk diameterbecause of the risk of trespass but the Tree Officer can do so and may share the information withus in his/her report.It will be a tragedy if this tree is lost. Even if it is ailing I hope its loss is not necessary.It appears to my amateur eye, and from a short distance away, that 50% of this tree's root areahas been compromised, and I look forward to reading the Tree Officer's report with some interest.Could this situation have ever been acceptable? We may learn.

on 2019-12-23   OBJECT

Submission on behalf of the Bristol Tree Forum.

This Giant Redwood Is one (T3) of a group of five trees protected by Group TPO 1083/R whichwas confirmed in November 2008. It is located on the southern end of what appears to be agarage, which Planning evidence suggests was built within its root zone some time in the 1960s. Itis very likely that the trees roots were damaged during construction of both the garage and thehouse to the west of it. Despite this, the tree has survived for over fifty years.

The tree has a mean diameter of 1.4 metres (based on the measurement made in May 2019). Thisgives it a CAVAT value of £261,260. The tree is highly visible from Coombe Lane and WestCoombe and from the surrounding area generally, so has a high public visual amenity. Given this,it is surprising that the views of the surrounding neighbourhood about this application are not beingsought.

Given its status, the applicant has, we suggest, to discharge a high burden of proof to justify thedestruction of this tree. The applicant has failed to do this.

The incomplete arboricultural report (we invite the applicant to disclose the full report, especiallyas the report disclosed refers to sections that are missing) relied on is, at best speculative.

The nature of the bark of this species makes mallet tapping of little value. All the other invasivetests found no evidence of decay or any other defects. No evidence is given as to the significance,if any, of the 'unusual, pronounced vertical ribbing' found or why 'long sections of the bark betweenthe ribs appear sunken and depleted'.

The use of Google Map Streetview images has little if any diagnostic value. The quality of the siximages of the tree from Coombe Lane to the north of the tree taken between 2008 and 2015 isvariable with some sections out of focus or over exposed given the brightness of the southern skybeyond the tree.

The four images between 2009 and 2015 taken from West Coombe are slightly better and doindeed show a lean (not measured in the report) in the tree towards the north east but we can seelittle if any evidence of dieback in either set of images and there is little if any evidence that we cansee that the tree has declined in this period.

The presence of a 'pronounced buttress to NE' suggests that the lean is of longstanding and thetree has compensated for it. There is no evidence that the lean is either recent or progressive.The speculation about pathogens is just that, speculation. No evidence has been found of anydisease.

All trees have a risk of sudden failure, either in whole or in part, and of causing 'serious harm'thereby. There is not evidence that the risk of this is any greater in this tree than is normal.If the tree is indeed in decline, then there is no reason why this cannot be conservatively managedpro tem. If limbs are found to be at risk of failing then they can be cut back or, if necessary,removed.

The applicant has failed to show that there is any reason why this tree needs to be felled now.

on 2019-12-22   OBJECT

It would be an enormous tragedy to lose this tree unnecessarily. I can only plead withthe Tree Officer to consider the report attached to the application most carefully. We can rely uponhis/her professionalism I am sure.

If the tree is lost then its demise - i.e. the cause of its demise - should be a lesson for all Plannersand Developers. The arboriculturist's report points the finger at damage to the roots occurringduring the building works when the land surrounding the former large house was developed forhousing. Root Protection Areas and Root Protection barriers are supposed to prevent this sort ofoccurrence, and if root damage is the cause of the loss of the tree then clearly neither worked inthis instance.

The planning applications from 1963, 1969, 1971 and 1972 are no longer available on thePlanning Portal for viewing so we cannot see what went on with the retained trees then. But theimportance of not disturbing the roots of important trees cannot be over emphasised. Here inStoke Bishop we have over recent years witnessed the disturbance by construction works to theroots of many important trees, with claims that as they did not fall over the next day then nodamage has been done. The probable death of this tree from disturbance to its roots shows justhow long it takes for the inevitable to take place. A lesson for all.

on 2019-12-22   OBJECT

What on earth are you thinking to destroy this important asset. We need more and moreand more trees. Please don't cut this beautiful natural sculpture, co2 remover, shade giver, soilconditioner, rain collecter. It took nature so so many years to grow this, nature worked so hard toget this beautiful tree grown. Have some respect.

on 2019-12-22   OBJECT

The reason posed for removing this tree seems to be related to damage to the roots,caused by developments nearby which ignored regulations. Given this tree's age and value - over£260,000 then everything possible should be done to maintain it.