Lawyers set to fight for trees
LEGAL action is set to be taken against a major house builder after four protected trees were felled to make way for a new development.Councillors are being recommended to take court action against Wilcon Homes Anglia Ltd, which it is alleged ordered contractors to raze to the ground a 60-year-old hedge at Purdis Farm.
By Richard Cornwell
LEGAL action is set to be taken against a major house builder after four protected trees were felled to make way for a new development.
Councillors are being recommended to take court action against Wilcon Homes Anglia Ltd, which it is alleged ordered contractors to raze to the ground a 60-year-old hedge at Purdis Farm.
The hedge contained four holly trees which were subject to a tree preservation order which was made 12 years ago.
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If the company is prosecuted through the magistrates' court and found guilty, it would face a fine.
Furious families alerted officials at Suffolk Coastal council when they saw contractors start to fell the hedge opposite their homes – just a four days before councillors were due to visit the site to inspect it and decide on permission.
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Wilcon wanted the hedge in Bucklesham Road removed to provide access to 33 new detached homes it wanted to build on the land behind. Four properties would also be demolished to make way for the project.
But residents had hoped the hedge could be saved and that a shared access with the golf club, further down the road, could be negotiated.
Planners had said the development could not go ahead without access but wanted to see the rural street scene before making a decision. Wilcon moved in to cut the hedge down to stop them seeing its rural nature.
Planning officials have now carried out an investigation into the incident and have discovered that the trees were part of a group of four holly, three sycamore, two lime and a corsican pine covered by a Tree Preservation Order.
While the hedging was not protected, four holly trees which formed part of it were cut down. The other trees in the order made in 1990 were not affected.
In a report to the development control sub committee, which meets on Thursday , director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield said residents and the golf club had complained about the loss of the hedge.
"Telephone conversations between officers, the developer and its contractors confirmed that Wilcon Homes Anglia Ltd, as owner, had authorised the removal of the frontage hedging," said Mr Schofield.
Officers allege that the felling of the trees is an offence under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and are recommending that councillors authorise a prosecution by the council for a breach of planning control.
No-one was available to comment from Wilcon Homes.