Response from the officer dealing with arboreal issues ("tree officer" Tunbridge Wells Borough Council)

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Planning & Building Control Services
- Daniel M. Docker -
Tel: 01892 526121 extension: 3416

18 December 2000

Re: Application for Tree Preservation Order for group of trees in York Road

Thank your for your letters dated 25 October and 8 December 2000 relating to the above trees.

I have given careful consideration to your request to place a Tree Preservation Order on the trees, but do not consider that this would be warranted.

My records show that the trees were initially planted to screen the extension to the car park of the present building.

The trees are within a Conservation Area, which means that they cannot be removed or pruned without prior notification being made to the Council. That allows us to put a Tree Preservation Order on them if we are concerned at the proposals.

Where a planning application is made which impacts on trees, the trees are taken into consideration as part of the application as a whole, and the benefit of their retention is weighed against the potential benefits (or otherwise) of the proposed development.

It is my understanding that in the first application (TW/99/02211) the trees were considered to be one of the causes for refusal of planning permission of the proposal as a whole.

In the second application (TW/00/01474), the trees were on e of a number of factors considered by Officers, and on balance the potential contribution of the development to the surrounding area was felt to outweigh the benefit that would be gained by their retention. However the application was considered by members of the Western area Planning Committee who resolved to refuse permission. The matters covered in the grounds of refusal reflected the Members resolution at that meeting. The grounds of refusal do not refer directly to the trees but do address the issues of building lines and the general character and appearance of the Conservation Area.

The applicant has now appealed against the decision. For this reason, it would not be reasonable to place a Tree Preservation Order on these trees at the present time.

Yours sincerely,
Daniel Docker
Tree Officer

December 2002 / January 2003 - 3 years later:
In December 2002 the council plants new trees outside their own offices, while at the same time allows 21-year-old trees to be cut down in a conservation area of the town centre - virtually 100 metres away from the Town Hall.
Everybody agrees new trees are a welcome addition to the town centre, but it seems a bit hypocritical.

April 2003 - TWBC announces approval of CALA Homes hard and soft landscaping
York Road: the replacement for the 10 felled trees, including four 21 year old mature Sorbus Aria, will be four Sorbus Aucuparia.

January 2003 - There was once a group of TREES on Telephone House site
between Trinity House and No. 27 York Road

Memorandum / Statement of Case for the Public Inquiry: Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells, May 2001
by The Telephone House Neighbours Association

The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells
The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the development on Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1