One tree will beat the axe at Whitburn housing site

Former Croftside Court residential home development plan with 21 trees to be cut down apart from elm tree T22
Former Croftside Court residential home development plan with 21 trees to be cut down apart from elm tree T22

A single tree has escaped the chop after planners gave permission for the root and branch clearance of over 21 others to make way for a new housing scheme in Whitburn.

They say the elm, the biggest on site at 14m high and with an expected lifespan of at least 20 years, is the most important and must be protected.

The tree which wiil escape the axe

The tree which wiil escape the axe

But they have judged the others, in the grounds of the former Croftside Court residential home, in Croftside Avenue, have no ecological value – and can go.

However, they have ordered clearance of the land, which is expected to soon be subject to a new planning bid, can not be cleared during the spring and summer months.

This was after an impact assessment found trees and shrubs may provide valuable nesting space for birds.

The saved tree, identified as T22 and owned by South Tyneside Council, is not being made subject to Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

But planning bosses say it would likely qualify if it were in private hands and an application was sought.

They have made it a condition of granting clearance permission that all necessary steps, including protective fencing, is installed to save it from damage.

Initial land clearance will see the relocation of an electrical substation and the construction of a retaining wall.

It is believed planning permission will soon be sought to construct a new sheltered housing development.

A South Tyneside Council report states: “The council’s landscape officer has raised no objections to the proposal subject to this tree being protected by tree protective fencing.

“Habitats present on the site are mostly limited to ecological value. No protected or priority species were recorded on site.

“The scrub and scattered trees on site do provide potential nesting and roosting opportunities for more common nesting birds.”

But tree T22 will not escape completely unscathed, a report compiled by Liam Robson of Durham-based arboriculture and ecology experts Dendra Consulting, recommends.

It must be pruned in parts by 2m prior to development so as not encroach on neighbouring properties.

Mr Robson said: “In this instance, T22 is the only tree which has the potential for such conflicts.

“Given the tree is located to the north west of the property, shading will be limited.

“It is likely that pruning of the tree away from the closest proposed dwelling will be required in future years.”