Aldborough Gate tree
The tree being removed, Aldborough Gate

Children sat crying as developer fells tree in their back garden

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Housing developer Taylor Wimpey have left a family outraged and saddened after they cut down a tree in their garden.

The tree sat on the border of a family home on The Chase, Boroughbridge and a new development called Aldborough Gate.

It was a mature tree with a trunk diameter of around 70cm with around 1/3rd of the trunk on the new development and 2/3rds on the homeowners land.

Taylor Wimpey have said that the tree was dead, but the trunk appears healthy and there was fully leave cover last year.

The new development has properties from around £288K to £475K.

Wayne England, homeowner, said:

We woke up one morning to find tree surgeons felling a tree that sits on the border of our property.

Taylor Wimpey authorised the felling without any notification or discussion with ourselves.

They knocked on the window to inform us but by this point the cut had been done and despite my protest they had to continue.

It became apparent that a neighbour had been emailing Taylor Wimpey and between them had organised this felling.

We bought the house in 2018 with the knowledge that Alborough Gate was to be built on the field but also safe in the knowledge that tree would act as a good shield against the development.

The behaviour of both Taylor Wimpey and the neighbour is sickening – my children sat in the kitchen crying as they felled the tree.

It was not causing problems to anyone and despite them saying it was dead was not their decision to make alone.

Aldborough Gate tree stump
The remaining tree stump

 

Harrogate Borough Council have confirmed that there wasn’t a specific Tree Preservation Order (TPO), although Wayne England has documentation during the purchase of his property that suggest the tree had protection. The tree was a key reason for purchasing the property. The family moved in during 2018 and were aware of the new Taylor Wimpey development, but the tree was giving a visible barrier.



Wayne England said:

The tree was on our land as well as Taylor Wimpey -I have measured the stump at 27″ and 16″ is on our side and 11″ on theirs.

Our fence butts up to the tree at both sides.

I want the tree back to be honest as it formed the basis of purchasing the house in the first place due to it shielding us from the developers.

Their own plans don’t come near our back fence due to the trees that are in place.

The tree before the development (on right of group of 3)

The tree before development started
The tree before the development started (apologises for the quality)

A spokesperson from Taylor Wimpey North Yorkshire said:

The tree in question bordered land our Aldborough Gate development is sited on, and we sincerely apologise for any upset caused by removing the tree prematurely without thorough consultation.

Following a complaint received, our appointed arboriculturist confirmed that the tree was dead and we acted on their advice to fell due to the health and safety risks posed by forecasted high winds and poor weather conditions.

We have offered to install fencing where the tree stood and apologise again for any shock or distress caused.

The remaining tree stump
The remaining tree stump
The view from the rear of the property
The view from the rear of the property

 

Wayne added

The site manager at the time was distraught when he could see we had no notification of it.

He straight away offered to put a fence up.

At this moment in time the stump is still there with our fence butting up to it either side, so I assume they are going to remove the stump and roots.

We were then contacted by Andy Garbutt at Taylor Wimpey, who was involved in the decision and he believes that they assumed they had been dealing with us due to the amount of calls only now to realise that it was the neighbour.

His words to me were “why would a neighbour create so much fuss if the tree wasn’t in there garden”

Wayne has said there are still a number of outstanding questions to be answered:

  1. Why didn’t they write to us asking for permission to enter our property
  2. Why knock on the window after they put the cut in which doomed the tree anyway
  3. Can a neighbour really persuade a major construction company to fell a tree next door.
  4. Is a fence a realistic alternative to a mature tree.
  5. If it was dead why were we admiring the leaf during the summer

Wayne said:

We had no survey shown to us prior to say the tree was dead and whilst it was not fully blossoming the tree did leaf up last summer which was good to see.


 

 


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21 Comments

  1. Absolutely shocking behaviour from the developer and your neighbour. I would actually feel the neighbour has more to answer for than the article suggests. However this feels very much like big business just rolling over the little guy. Surely there is a legal position that favours you here. Compensation should be more than a fence.

  2. That tree stump ain’t dead….Typical of a big selfish organisation with no concerns except £signs…

  3. Pretty typical of developers, first thing they usually do is cut down any trees and hedges. Council makes no effort to ensure when giving planning consent that it’s customers, the council tax payer are protected.

    • I am no tree doctor, but is a dead tree not hollow?? Absolutely disgusting behaviour by both parties, I sincerely hope neighbour has to do the digging by hand to replace this tree, that he has paid half to !

  4. An absolute act of vandalism on the part of both Taylor Wimpey ( who should have known better) and an interfering neighbour with nothing gained other than heartache for the family whose garden it was growing in.
    I feel the family should be compensated with more than just a fence panel. The gesture is insulting to say the least.
    A nature lover of trees, plants and wildlife.

  5. UK is under siege from these vile money merchants. Here in Telford we are exhausted battling massive developer group Taylor Wimpey, they believe they are invincible. They have ripped out three hundred year old hedgerow in our lane and acres of woodland and wild life habitat including bat roosts, without conscience. They have trespassed on private land to access Lawley Common, they have not honoured the laws protecting Restricted Byway, they have not respected rights established in residents title deeds, they have not taken responsibility for structural damage and flooding to our mature properties entirely due to their piling and drilling in unstable historic mining area. The Coal authority and Geo 3 risk assessments commissioned by them state the land can never be safe for development. They know ordinary people do not have financial means to enlist legal help. Our MP has supported us but against Robert Jenrick Housing Minister ignorance and greed, he is onside of developers not the people who work to pay his MPs allowance! We share your heartache.https://secure.telford.gov.uk/planning/pa-applicationresponses-public.aspx?Applicationnumber=TWC/2020/0047

  6. They should be obliged to plant at least one mature tree just inside the fence! In Brazil, you can only cut down one tree if you plant several others!

  7. I am fortunate to have a huge mature oak tree in my back garden which hides an ugly new housing estate. As a nurse during lockdown, it has been my lifeline watching it flourish throughout the seasons: full bloom in summer, its beautiful autumnal colours and snow lined branches in winter. The wildlife it attracts has kept me sane throughout these miserable days. I feel so sad for this family. These big companies don’t understand the devastation caused by their greed.

  8. At the very least they should be compensated by the installation of an impression tree, ie: not some weedy sapling but something around 5 metres tall. Taylor Wimpey are totally out of order but so are many greedy developers that do the same. They claim all this eco vandalism is necessary to provide homes but do not give a toss about wildlife or the beneficial effect of trees….all they are interested in is money.

  9. Look at the Google Street view in the article. Half the crown is without leaf in the middle of summer. Tree clearly in serious decline, fell.

  10. There is a method of valuing a tree. It’s called CAVAT. You may be surprised by the value of a large, free standing healthy tree, as this one seems to have been.

  11. I would ask for evidence of the correspondence between neighbour & the company & get it authenticated by an expert. It could be that the neighbour wasn’t involved at all but used as a scapegoat/excuse for them to carry on as they please. Especially after reading the comment from Carol Williams above & the way Taylor Wimpey have treated them.

  12. Firstly: did Taylor Wimpey have a Natural England licence to remove the tree. If not they are guilty of offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
    Secondly: was any wildlife survey carried out? If not the owners can certify that bats roost in the tree. It is well known that Barbestrelle bats roost in the crevices in oak tree bark. Bats are protected as are their roosts.
    Thirdly: did T.W. apply for planning consent to remove the tree. If they didn’t they have committed further planning offences.

    I am heartily sick of these developers breaking tha law in the knowledge they are doing so and knowing that nobody will do anything about it. May I respectfully, suggest that as there are at least 2 occasions when T.W. have been involved you get together, do some crowd funding, I will donate £50, and go to a solicitor specialising in wildlife, (wildlife and Countryside Act) and planning law for advice regarding suing the Chief Executive of T.W. if you sue him personally he cannot use T.W. funds. He is responsible for the actions of ALL his employees.
    Further more I would suggest you expose these atrocities, (as part of your crowd funding campaign), by writing to The Guardian, Private Eye and your local papers in I can help further please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    • Hi Robert, I could do with someone like you on my side. I am struggling to even get the council to stand up to them at the moment even after proving the tree was not at all Taylor Wimpeys responsibility. I have had geospatial survey as well as independent tree survey with CAVAT and all I seem to be getting told at the moment is it will take thousands to get them to court.

  13. This is appalling behaviour but sadly not unexpected from the big money firms who believe they are invincible. Perhaps you could ask the neighbour why they did what they did? They may have thought Wimpey was in contact with you…Nevertheless this destructive behaviour needs compensating with a new mature tree and fence tidy up. At the moment they do seem to do what they want. There are numerous situations where construction companies are taking advantage of the lockdown to overlook laws and bylaws – it’s too late after the event! Follow HS2 for more evidence of deliberate land grab and habitat destruction. Support Chris Packham with his: ‘Stop HS2 petition’. The only way we can stop the destruction, which is initiated and endorsed by the government, is to stand together instead of fighting individual battles. Good luck.

  14. Just a quick update to all those who commented. I have since had a geospatial survey done to evaluate ownership of tree only to find that the tree is entirely ours as well as half a metre of land behind the tree. I have also had a CAVAT done and they have dismissed that as nonsense however they have not yet learnt that they had no right to intervene with the tree at all regardless of condition. The CAVAT reports the tree was not dead and had a life expectancy of between 20 and 40 years. There was wound on the branches which could have easily been trimmed back, something we planned to do in the summer. Local council are not interested even though they are willing to protect a tree stump 2 doors down. Anyway, I am on with it.

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