Friday, 21 January 2022

Tree faces chop after residents raise concerns

A DEAD tree on a Henley street is set to be removed after a campaign by residents

A DEAD tree on a Henley street is set to be removed after a campaign by residents who fear it could fall on their homes.

Lynda Thornton Hunt, of River Terrace, gathered support from her neighbours in asking South Oxfordshire District Council to remove the tree protection order on the 25ft high cedar tree.

Her petition, signed by 19 residents of the street, was delivered to Robinson Sherston, the managing agents for the property where the tree stands, as the owner lives abroad.

Mrs Thornton Hunt, a physhiotherapist, said: “The petition is to make the district council aware of the need to remove the tree protection order and their liability for any damage caused by the dead cedar tree.

“It records that should any damage be caused to any property here, be that boats, cars or the premises, the freeholder will be responsible.”

Mrs Thornton Hunt has lived on the street since the tree was planted about 25 years ago but first noticed needles falling from it about a year ago. She said: “We knew it was dying because we were being showered by needles. We would wake up in the morning and there would be a carpet of needles everywhere.

“A large branch could break off in the wind or a storm. It’s a danger to property and to life. All the residents feel the same about it.

“It is a danger for cars parked in the road, people driving or walking by and boats on the river because it’s a tall tree. If the wind blew the other way it would damage our properties.”

Mrs Thornton Hunt had the tree examined by arboriculturalist Hugo Loudon, who runs Heritage Tree Services in in Stoke Row.

Mr Loudon said: “The cedar tree has struggled due to the built up infrastructure around it which would have produced an insufficient rooting soil which is needed for a predicted long lifespan. Additionally, the subsequent building work, maintenance and landscaping around it produced a very unfriendly tree environment and physiologically this will put the tree into stress and it will exhaust itself.

“The tree has now died and hopefully it will be replaced with a suitable specimen to complement the road, river and properties in the neighbourhood.

“Obviously it is prudent to organise the removal of a dead tree but while it will lose its dynamic properties and become more rigid, it is not going to be catastrophically dangerous for another couple of months.

“However, it is better to be proactive and organise the removal and replacement before it becomes brittle or has deteroriated to the point where branches could fall or become unstable.”

Mrs Thornton Hunt also reported her concerns to Henley town councillor Will Hamilton.

He said: “The district council has looked at the tree and agreed that it does need to come down. This should happen in the next couple of weeks. It is not a safety issue at the moment but we are keeping an eye on it.”

Charles Thomasson, lettings and management manager for Robinson Sherston in Bell Street, said he hoped the tree would be removed in the next few weeks.

He said: “We had the tree inspected and we are just about to put in an application to the council for consent to have it removed but there is likely to be a condition to replace it with a different tree.

“The tree was in good health until autumn last year and we don’t know why it started to die.

“We would like to get it taken down in the next few weeks before autumn starts.”

A district council spokesman said: “In July the management company contacted us regarding a cedar tree at River Terrace which was causing concern.  We advised them that the tree should be inspected by an arboriculturalist. 

“Subsequently the inspection recommended that the tree should be monitored for a further three months.

“Since then the tree has declined further and we have advised them that it will need to be removed.”

He said that because the tree was covered by a preservation order, Robinson Sherston needed to submit a tree removal application, which it had done. This had been approved.

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