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Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Alex Seabrook

Trees in Kingswood playing field saved but councillors warn protection is not enough

Three tall trees in a playing field in Kingswood have been saved from potentially being chopped down. But councillors have warned that protection for large trees across South Gloucestershire is not enough, with tree preservation orders (TPO) often being ignored.

An oak, sycamore and horse chestnut, which lie on the northern end of the Lees Hill playing field, will now be protected from a TPO. Owners of an adjacent south-facing garden had objected to the TPO on the trees, which block sunlight and make growing vegetables difficult.

But South Gloucestershire Council’s development management committee decided to confirm the TPO, at a meeting on Thursday, February 16. The property owners did not attend to make objections in person at the meeting.

Read more: Battle to save playing field trees that overshadow neighbour's garden

Kate Tate, arboricultural officer, said: “The inquirer said they had been offered a piece of land at the rear [of the property] to use as an allotment. Because the garden is south-facing and the trees are in the south of the garden, obviously the land is not going to be much use as the trees are going to stop the sun from reaching the plot.

“They wanted to know whether or not it was likely the council would give permission for the trees to be removed. This is backing onto a very large playing field used not only by local clubs but also by walkers, dog walkers and joggers. The trees are substantially in leaf and do provide a huge amount of amenity.”

A TPO legally protects a tree from being chopped down, with a threat of a fine from £2,500 to £20,000. But when trees protected by TPOs are felled, cases can take at least a year to go through the courts, and fines are only issued after the trees have already been removed.

Councillor Brian Hopkinson said: “When we put these TPOs on, sometimes they can be ignored. We had one in Frenchay where a very beautiful oak tree, which framed the whole area around the houses there, was removed. I believe there’s a case working its way through the courts

“Unfortunately we had another incident recently where one was taken down. The builder basically ignored what was said on the planning permission and took down a really nice magnolia tree which was supposed to be preserved.

“When we put these TPOs on it must be made clear to people that they will be prosecuted, and they will be taken through the courts if something happens. Because at the moment, a lot of people are just ignoring them.”

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