|Address||Stoke Lodge Sports Ground Shirehampton Road Sea Mills Bristol
|Proposal||Beech (B) - Light crown-lift and reduction (2m maximum) of the NE lower face of crown (lower 4m North East quadrant of crown and no higher).|
|Type||Tree Preservation Order|
|Neighbour Consultation Expiry||13-11-20|
|Decision||GRANTED subject to condition(s)|
|BCC Planning Portal||on Planning Portal|
|Public Comments||Supporters: 0 Objectors: 13 Total: 13|
|No. of Page Views||0|
|Comment analysis||Date of Submission|
|Nearby Trees||Within 200m|
Recommendation submitted 08-11-20
Whilst there is a common law right to remove the branches of a neighbouring tree if they are causing a nuisance, this does not apply to Tree Preservation Order (TPO) trees which are protected by statute. The circumstances in which a TPO tree may be pruned or otherwise ‘managed’ are very limited.
Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (the TCPA 1990) and the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 (the 2012 Regulations), the cutting down, topping, lopping or uprooting of a tree may not be undertaken without the consent of the Local Planning Authority unless one of the conditions set out in regulation 14 is met.
One exception under regulation 14 permits work to be undertaken ‘as may be necessary for the prevention or abatement of a nuisance’. The Court of Appeal in Perrin v Northampton BC (Perrin and Another v Northampton Borough Council  EWCA C iv 1353) confirmed that:
‘In order to trigger the exemption under section 198(6)(b) [of TCPA 1990], the nuisance in question must be actionable in law. There must be actual or imminent damage, not just the "pure encroachment" of roots or branches into or over the adjoining land.’
The Applicant’s notice states ‘Beech (B) - Client feels the crowns of both trees are excessively over hanging their property, particularly the lower portions of crown. I have recommended a light crown-lift and reduction (2m maximum) of the NE lower face of crown (lower 4m North East quadrant of crown and no higher). This tree should have been included in the previous application but was missed. Works from the previous approved application have already been carried out with consideration and care to maintain the natural form of the trees. We will continue that care through to works on the Beech’.
As this description does not demonstrate that there is any ‘actual or imminent damage’, it may not be granted.
That is the end of the matter, but we also remind the Council that its tree management policy states 'We do not prune or remove a council owned tree to stop the nuisance of overhanging branches'; if the Council chooses to permit any pruning of a TPO tree under regulation 13 of the 2012 Regulations by any other parties, this should be solely for the basis of securing the health and welfare of the tree and not for any other reason.
Pruning a tree risks its future health. Particularly one that is as splendid and important enough to warrant a TPO as this Beech is. No tree’s life should be risked by unnecessary pruning. The Arboricultural Association has an interesting lecture on this very subject – Applied Tree Biology Lecture 3 Leaves and Crowns by Dr Andrew Hirons (https://www.trees.org.uk/Training-Events/Online-Learning/Applied-Tree-Biology).
Trees are given their TPO status because of their amenity value to the wider public. They should not be at risk of losing their status merely because their presence is inconvenient to one individual who, in buying their property, should have known of the special status of the trees on their boundary and of the particular ‘limitations’ this might impose on their ‘enjoyment’ of their property.
We note that a previous proposal to prune this and other nearby TPO trees to prevent damage to the garden and areas around the swimming pool (18/06369/VP) was rejected by the Council on the basis there was no actionable Nuisance. More recently, a reduced pruning of two of the trees was permitted because what was proposed was a ‘very light pruning unlikely to impact the amenity value or health of these trees…’ (20/02228/VP).
We believe that the Council should be wary of this history of successive, piecemeal applications and should consider treating this application as part of a wider project by the applicant to remove these neighbouring trees from their boundary – witness that this application refers to ‘both trees are excessively over hanging their property, not just the one Beech that it relates to. This suggests that other, separate applications for works on other trees will soon follow.
Bristol Tree Forum
08 November 2020.