Tuesday 29 October 2013

Tree Issues in Margate

Last week I received a phone call from a council officer who mentioned the 150+ year old Holm Oak in the centre of Hawley Square had a fungal problem and may need to be felled. I asked if there was a report, because we hadn't noticed there was a problem. I was then told there wouldn't need to be one if the issue was a health and safety matter. I'm glad to hear that a report has now been commissioned if there is a risk of losing such a prominent and mature tree.

historic picture of Hawley Square with the Holm Oak tree
 Margate Local Family History posted a great photo of Hawley Square on their Facebook page:

There was on Friday a rather disappointing article in the Thanet Gazette with accompanying photographs of the historic fire damage to the tree (nothing to do with the alleged fungal problem) and claiming the tree is showing 'obvious signs of decay'.

I understand the information about the health of the tree came from a council officer who had contacted the paper but didn't wish to be on the record. All rather unhelpful given there hasn't been a report yet and we haven't seen anything of the 'obvious signs of decay'.

So Sunday night's storm came and went and the Hawley Square Holm Oak has stood firm. This is at least a good omen. This picture taken on Monday October 28th.

Meanwhile, across town, a sign is up at Margate Railway Station. Posted on October 18th. It's an application to fell the 8 trees that surround the car park.

tree to be removed

trees to be removed

trees to be removed

The application has been made by Network Rail Infrastructure Limited. While I was out there taking pictures of the trees, I was asked by the rail staff and taxi drivers if I was there to object to the proposal. It turns out they have already objected and are very upset about it. It's indicative of how strongly people feel about these trees. 

I was told the proposed tree removal is part of the station revamp. But we haven't seen a planning application yet for the car park revamp. And why can't a station revamp incorporate the 8 trees that are happily growing there?

The trees are within the Conservation Area and directly in front of the Grade II Listed Railway Station. As such, any major pruning or their removal has to be notified to the Council who will decide whether to apply a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or grant permission for the proposed removal.

The application reference number is EF/MAR/4613
The address postcode is CT9 5AD.

The application is not available on the UK Planning website because the council don't post tree applications for online viewing. You have to go to the Gateway and request the file.

I suggest writing to planning.services@thanet.gov.uk to enquire how to access the tree application documents. If you think the trees should stay, at least until the station re-vamp is defined and perhaps the trees worked into the proposals, object to the proposal to remove them and ask the council to place a TPO on them. That's a Tree Preservation Order reserved for trees in Conservation Areas.

Here are some photographs of the carpark and trees. Perhaps the first thing to be done is much needed weeding and  cutting of the grass.

Broken bench and weeds
Over grown grass and weeds