Tree preservation order would threaten viability of new Richmond housing, council told

The location of the proposed development.

Granting a preservation order to protect trees on the site of a proposed controversial housing development would threaten the viability of the scheme, it has been claimed.

Richmondshire District Council is considering whether to confirm the order for four trees on land off Hurgill Road, Richmond.

The request to protect the trees was submitted by local resident Dr Tim Pearson in January last year ahead of an application to build 30 houses on land at Hurgill Stables being submitted.

The site, owned by Zetland Estates, previously housed a large stabling blocks, a menage and training ground, which was demolished around 20 years ago.

The planning application for the housing proposes the felling of several trees on the site.

Council officers visited the site and issued a provisional tree preservation order protecting four trees – a sweet chestnut, a horse chestnut, and ash and a sycamore – earlier this year.

However, this order will run out in February 2023 if not confirmed by the council.

Council officers are recommending councillors rubber stamp the order when they meet next month.

However, the agent for the applicant, Matt Ball, has warned this could threaten the viability of the whole scheme, which includes eight affordable homes, and said that confirming the perseveration order would be “entirely obstructive” of the local authority.

He said: “This site has a live application on it and the determination date for this application was the 19 May 2022.

“It is now the 15 September and we are expressing our concern over the legitimacy and timing of this TPO order.

“We have been in dialogue with the council regarding the application, amendments have been made and financial viability has been set out.

“How can a TPO order be pushed through after a determination deadline? Had the application been decided by the determination deadline, there would not have been an opportunity to enact this order. It appears entirely constructed.

“Forcing this order through without any regard for the wider implications is quite simply reprehensible and entirely obstructive by RDC.”

Mr Ball added that two of the trees set to be protected are on a plot set aside for self build housing.

He added: “These TPO’s will obstruct the viability of delivering that plot and the financial viability of the whole scheme –

“If the applicant can’t deliver that plot, it throws out of balance the ability to deliver the agreed 8 on site affordable units across the whole development.”

However, a report for councillors recommending the order is confirmed states that “the balance of the circumstances is in favour of retention of all four trees”.

8 Comments

  1. Its a shame that trees can take so much more importance than people. Take the trees down and plant double somewhere else. Richmondshire DC often gets its priorities wrong.

  2. Surely it would be possible for the developers to amend their plans to accommodate these four trees?

  3. Hopefully the developers will publish the land value premium that will result from planning permission and their anticipated profit margin on the development.

    Then people will be able to judge whether the viability of the development is threatened, of there is some other reason behind their objection.

  4. Don’t be bullied, SAVE THE TREES.
    Developers will always come up with objections/threats if they can’t have their way.

  5. Please , save the trees ! Houses can be built on other brown field sites . It’s taken a lot of years for those trees to grow and they will be home to a lot of animals and birds .

    • Quite! What people don’t realise is that newly planted trees cannot offer anywhere for birds to roost or to nest for at 20 to 30 years. Being so small, young trees also don’t hold anywhere near the amount of insects that older trees do. The UK is one of the worst nations in the World for biodiversity. One of many depressing examples, is that we only have 1/3 of the birds that we used to have. Lack of habitat is one of the reasons for this loss.

  6. At a meeting with the Planning Officer yesterday she confirmed that they were only proposing six “affordable homes” not the eight stated by Mr. Ball. Recent research has demonstrated that mature trees retain twice as much carbon as had previously been thought. These trees are even more vital than they were at the time of the TPO being issued.

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