Upset over plans to fell "dangerous" leaning oak tree in Ingol

"This isn't over".

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 7:00 am

That’s the message from a Preston councillor to Community Gateway Association (CGA) as a row broke out over plans to fell a large oak tree in Ingol.

Residents living in Dovedale Avenue were informed by letter late on Tuesday that CGA intended to fell the tree on their land opposite Birchover Close the next morning. A footpath has been laid underneath it as part of a new sheltered accomodation development.

CGA said inspections had flagged up concerns about the tree, and that Lancashire County Council’s highways team required “significant works” for it to meet their regulations, which would unbalance the tree.

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The leaning tree in Ingol

Preston Councillor John Potter said the tree was healthy and marked for retention when planning permission was granted.

After he raised it with Preston Council, officers advised CGA not to carry out any work until the planning issue is resolved.

CGA said that the work was halted because workers deemed it too unsafe to manually fell, and require a cherry-picker.

Councillor Potter said: “CGA have brought this on themselves. They didn’t have to put the footpath under the tree. We cant’ keep seeing trees as an inconvenience.”

Councillor John Potter in Dovedale Avenue

He added: "Of course I understand that some trees do become unsafe, so if CGA have a report saying this, then we need to see it.

"If it's only unsafe because a footpath has been laid underneath it, then that's not the tree's fault."

Mr Potter also criticised the late notice given by CGA to residents, who have taken to parking vehicles under the tree, to stop tree felling equipment getting close.

Lee Garry, head of asset management at CGA said: “Community Gateway has received several independent inspection reports, including one from just over two months ago, which flagged up potential concerns about the overall condition of the oak tree.

Lee Garry of CGA

“We monitor all our trees regularly as part of our comprehensive tree surveying programme. For a development to be officially completed, we need to go through several checks with the local authorities – one of which includes ensuring any footpaths meet highways regulations.

“During that check, we were informed that the oak, in its present state, would not meet the current regulations and significant works would need to be undertaken in order for it to do so, which in turn would further compromise its current stance; it leans quite considerably.

“Our previous development contractor unfortunately went into administration and we have only just been able to appoint a new contractor.

“At CGA, the welfare of our customers and communities is of paramount importance, and as we intend to shortly open The Courtyards independent living scheme to residents and the wider community, we need to move swiftly to ensure it is safe to do so.

“We are liaising with both Preston City and Lancashire County Councils to ensure an agreed way forward.

“Naturally, the last thing we would want to do is to fell a tree, but as a responsible landlord we must ensure the health and safety of our customers and the wider community.

“We would like to reassure everyone that all options have and will continue to be fully explored before a decision is made. Local residents and Councillors will also be kept informed.”