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The future of the Dovedale Avenue oak tree is still uncertain as plans are made to remove branches from community asset

Posted on - 22nd January, 2021 - 9:00am | Author - | Posted in - Ingol, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
The oak tree which was set to be felled Wednesday, 9 December. Pic: Cllr John Potter.

Residents of Dovedale Avenue, Ingol, were devastated to learn of Community Gateway Association’s (CGA) intentions to fell a much-loved oak tree in their community.

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The tree was considered ‘good condition’ in a 2015 planning application, (06/2016/0237) but now the building has been erected, CGA want to take the tree down referring to it as ‘unsafe.’

Locals insist the tree has looked the exact same for at least the last 20 years.

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The felling was set to take place, Wednesday, 9 December 2020, however Cllr John Potter managed to convince them to hold off as the tree is protected under planning conditions.

Cllr John Potter with the oak tree

On Monday, 18 January 2020, residents were given a letter from the Community Gateway Association, stating their plans for the tree.

The letter read:

“We wrote to you before Christmas about our plans to remove the oak tree on Dovedale Avenue in front of our new development.

“Following comments from nearby residents, we stopped the planned work to consider alternatives. This letter is updating you about the situation and explaining what we plan to do now.

“We like the tree and would like to retain it as it is, but, unfortunately, this is not possible. The tree overhangs the public footpath and the public highway, and we have been informed by Lancashire County Council that the clearance above the path and road does not meet their requirements and poses a danger to pedestrians and motorists.

“We had been advised that the best course of action was to remove the tree, however, we have listened to feedback and we have agreed an alternative with our advisors and the appropriate local authorities that involves removing the branches that cause a danger to pedestrians and motorists and do not comply with the highway regulations.

“Because the tree does not comply with the regulations and poses a danger, we will carry out the works as soon as possible in the next few days to ensure everybody’s safety.

“Nobody can be sure of the effect these works will have on the tree, so we will carefully monitor the condition of the tree to make sure it is safe and healthy.

“We may have to carry out further work, but we will only do this if there is a risk to the safety of people and cars passing by.

“We apologise that the previous letter caused concern. Please be assured that we are doing all we can to retain the tree and we will let you know if any further work is needed.”

On Tuesday 19 January 2020, Cllr John Potter was alerted to the letter, and subsequently contacted Gateway.

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Cllr John Potter challenged them about chopping off branches, saying it would more or less kill the tree which the community fought to save.

The removal of the branch would lead to the tree having to be felled as it would become unstable, which was confirmed by a member of Preston City Council.

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Cllr John Potter believes that the removal of the branches is still unacceptable.

Lee Garry, Head of Asset Management at Community Gateway

Lee Garry, Head of Asset Management at Community Gateway said: “The oak tree about which the enquiry was made is within the grounds of our independent living scheme – The Courtyards. We like the tree and would like to keep it as it is, but, unfortunately, this is not possible.

“As part of the planning permission for the development, we were required to construct a footpath in front of the building close to the tree.

“When this new footpath was inspected by the highways authority, Lancashire County Council, they informed us that the tree did not provide the required clearance where it overhangs both the footpath and the road.  This poses a danger to pedestrians and motorists.

“We had been advised that the best course of action was to remove the tree, however, we have listened to feedback from nearby residents and we have agreed an alternative with our advisors that involves removing the branches that do not comply with the highway regulations.

“Because the tree does not comply with the regulations and poses a danger, we will carry out the works as soon as possible in the next few days to ensure everybody’s safety. We will then monitor the tree regularly to ensure it remains safe in the hope it will live for many years.

“While no nobody can be sure of the effect this work will have on the tree, we have no evidence to suggest that removing the limb will kill the tree.”

The future of the oak tree is still uncertain at this stage.

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