Man given go-ahead to fell historic oak tree in Grimsby which is causing damage to his garage
A MAN has been given permission to cut down an historic oak tree which is causing structural damage to his garage.
But Lee Collins’s decision to inform the council of his intentions has cost him more than £500.
Although NELC had previously confirmed that the tree was not protected, when Mr Collins rang them in July last year, they promptly slapped a temporary tree preservation order (TPO) on it.
The move meant the 35-year-old had to pay £300 for a structural survey in order to persuade councillors not to make the order permanent. He has also forked out a further £200 in solicitors’ fees.
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Although the planning committee has now voted not to impose the order, Mr Collins is angry that the council “moved the goalposts” after he contacted them last year.
In 2008 he received a letter from the council’s tree officer, Paul Chaplin, confirming that the oak was not protected by a TPO, and that he could therefore manage the tree as he wished.
This was after Mr Chaplin went round to Mr Collins’ house and asked him to stop cutting it back following complaints from members of the public. It was not until last year, when cracks started appearing in the outbuilding, that he decided to have it removed altogether.
He said: “I feel the council has penalised me because I picked up the phone and said I was going to cut this tree down.
“I could have just cut it down but out of respect I decided to make them aware. I have tried to do things by the book but all it has done is cost me money.”
As well as the damage caused to his garage, Mr Collins is also worried that the tree could fall onto the alleyway nearby, which is a popular route for schoolchildren.
During the planning meeting he told the committee: “I’ve seen schoolchildren fall down in the alleyway on the leaves. I want the tree down. It’s getting me down. It’s damaging my property.
“There are kids that walk through that alleyway. What if it falls on them and kills them? If I hadn’t rung Paul it would have gone anyway.”
Mr Chaplin admitted he had told Mr Collins he was free to cut the tree down in 2008.
But he added that when Mr Collins contacted him last year, he pointed out removing the tree was “not necessarily the right thing to do” and urged him to get structural advice.
“I took the view that it was in a historic line of trees and it merited having a TPO until a decision on those implications and the damage could be made.”
Councillor Peter Mills (Con, Wolds) said: “My advice to him is if it’s causing damage to his property he should do just that.”
Jason Longhurst, head of development at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “We are always looking to improve our service and if anyone has concerns I would encourage them to raise them with us directly.”