Trees get protection

Occupy Lancaster protestors outside Lancaster Town Hall on Monday.
Occupy Lancaster protestors outside Lancaster Town Hall on Monday.

AN appeal against an order protecting trees in Lancaster’s Freeman’s Wood has been rejected by the city council.

The owner of the wood, The Property Trust Plc, appealed against a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that was implemented on the site, off St George’s Quay, by Lancaster City Council in December. But councillors on the appeals committee voted unanimously on Monday to uphold the order, which had 74 letters of support.

Castle Ward councillor Tracey Kennedy said she was “absolutely delighted” with the verdict.

The Property Trust, along with development partners Satnam, submitted proposals for the redevelopment of the site in 2010, and a large metal fence was put up around it in December, sparking outrage from local residents, who have used the site for leisure for more than 50 years.

Colin Griffiths, a director for Satnam, said: “We’re disappointed that the TPO was imposed in the form that it was, and we’re looking at the implications of that and the likely future steps that follow.”

Mark Mackworth-Praed, of Simon Jones Arboricultural Consultants, spoke on behalf of the Property Trust, claiming the woodland on the site consisted of shrubbery and undergrowth with very few mature trees. He also said the site had little or no amenity value, trees could not be seen from public land, the boundaries of the TPO included land that contained no trees, and the TPO notices had been incorrectly served by the City Council. But Maxine Knagg, the city council’s tree preservation officer, said that the woodland on the site contained a large number of mature trees, and was an organic wildlife environment which naturally and desirably consisted of diverse trees, saplings and undergrowth.

After the meeting, a city council spokeswoman said: “The council is conducting an investigation into the suspected breach of the TPO, and is unable to comment further at this time.”

Coun Kennedy added: “Local people have always known this was an immensely important woodland area and now it has been officially recognised. To have 74 people support the Tree Preservation Order was an incredible effort from local residents.”