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Urban Maple Tree Gives Ground to Home Development

Roadside trees often reach an impressive size and are a valued part of the urban scene. However, it is some measure of the pressure for more housing that public concern for the fate of a 45-foot-tall maple was not enough to block plans for construction of a new home.

Large numbers of residents had signed a petition against the proposal for a two-storey home, including basement. Local planners stated that they would have refused planning consent solely due to the potentially damaging impact on the tree; however, they were overruled by a government planning inspector.

Whilst recognising the tree’s amenity value to residents, the inspector said that there was nothing ‘outstanding’ or ‘unique’ about the specimen. The proposed house was of good design, in a sustainable location, and the acute need for more homes in the area was capable of overriding any harm to the tree. The inspector granted consent subject to a condition that an arboricultural assessment be carried out before work on the project commenced.

In rejecting objectors’ challenge to that decision, the High Court found that the inspector had taken into account local tree preservation policies and had properly exercised his planning judgment. Although he could have spent more time dealing with residents’ concerns, there was nothing unlawful about his ruling.