Pine Trees in Hunts Cross Avenue,
Gateacre, Liverpool:
The Arboriculturalist's Report
9 January 2004 (continued)

8. The local authority in granting consent for the development were satisfied that the two appeal trees could successfully be incorporated into the development. This means that they were satisfied that these trees merited the concession for a one third reduction in the protective zone on the side facing the building, i.e. 4m instead of 6m. This decision is questionable in view of the trunk diameter and the tree architecture, but would have been dependant on suitable protective fencing being erected at this distance on one side, and that there would be no disturbance on the opposite side. However, it is evident that there has been no protective fencing, with the result that many damaging activities have occurred up to 2m from the trees, particularly no.773. The ground has been excavated by approximately 0.75m, there is ongoing compaction of the ground, and there could be spillage of cement and other materials (photos. 5,6,7). The trees appear healthy, with no abnormal needle loss, so they appear to have tolerated the damage up to now, considering that the digging of foundations began over 2 years ago. It is not possible to assess the extent of the affect on stability, but there has been root loss close to the tree, and further damage is ongoing at present. Corsican pines have in their favour that they are relatively deeper rooting, but nevertheless, stability has been compromised by construction activities around these trees.

9. Concern is also raised regarding the aerial parts of tree no.773, and potential conflict with the building. The crown spread of the tree on the south-east side exceeds 4.5m, so branches will either conflict with, or overhang the building. The building will be 2 storey, so it is likely that the lowest lateral branch on that side, but probably that will be the only direct conflict. Other branches will partially overhang the roof, but they , and any others that may conflict can be reduced in length. Overhang of itself is not a cause for removal, provided that branches are sound.

10. At present, tree no.774 is sheltered by 773, and the crowns merge and move together, and as such, they are in harmony. The unbalanced shape of 774 is not unacceptable provided that 773 remains. If 773 were to be removed, then 774 would be very much exposed, and would have an abnormal, unbalanced crown form, subject to failure in extreme conditions.

11. Guidelines issued by the local authority for the space required between retained trees and buildings have been interpreted differently by both parties. The interpretation of the word "normally" in the local authority's SPG6 is somewhat tenuous, but their main argument is the location of the tree in relation to a "flank" wall. They maintain that although the tree is at a corner of the new building, the relevant closest wall is a flank wall. However, the wording of SPG6 is that the relevant distance - whether it be 11.5m, 6m or 2m - is "beyond the ultimate canopy spread". As the crown will overhang the building, this distance is less than zero, therefore the positioning of the building in relation to the tree does contravene the local authority guidelines.

12. There may be altered wind patterns by the construction of the building, but it would be very difficult to predict that these would have a significant effect on the crowns of the trees, which will be at a far greater height than the roof. The altered wind patterns would have to involve turbulence well above the roof. This may possibly occur, but the main sway of the trees caused by prevailing winds in the upper crown, will likely not be changed significantly.

continued . . .

These web pages have been created by the Gateacre Society to publicise a Planning Appeal decision and report issued by the Government Office for the North West on 11 February 2004

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