Published: 05:00, 06 May 2022
| Updated: 14:54, 06 May 2022
A housing developer has sparked fury at the way a much-loved tree has been cut back – but a council says people are lucky any of it remains.
Furious residents hit out at Redrow for what was perceived as “killing a 300-year-old oak tree” at its Appledore Green development, off Tilden Gill Road, in Tenterden.
However, Ashford Borough Council (ABC) says not only will the tree not die due to the work that's been done – but that it could have been removed entirely if the developer had so wished.
Concerns centre around the method used, with cuts having been made into the branches, rather than simply lop them off.
Resident Vicki Bance says the cuts seem like a “deliberate attempt to kill off the tree altogether”.
“They have taken everything – its height, width, and every branch has been sliced down vertically two or three times,” she said.
“We thought it was an attempt to pollard it – to cut all of the branches off to keep it smaller – but we are extremely concerned about the vertical cuts.
“They will leave the tree far more vulnerable to disease and rot. I cannot see how it will survive it.
“We also thought that the tree should have been given a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to prevent this kind of thing, given its age and history.”
However, the council has said the tree is not 300-years-old.
It rejected a survey by the Kent Wildlife Trust that suggested it was either a "veteran" or "ancient" tree.
ABC said it would not die as a result of the works and also clarified that the work was ‘coronet cutting’ – a form of tree cutting that attempts to mimic natural snapping of branches instead of cutting them back.
"The developer has been very accommodating in retaining the tree."
It is understood the developer may have undertaken the work as an alternative for removing the tree entirely – something that the council says it has the planning permission to do.
“The works have been undertaken to effectively try and recreate veteran tree attributes with flailed ends to simulate fractures and a smaller crown size," said an ABC spokesman.
“It would not be possible to give a tree that has been approved to be removed as part of the planning permission a TPO.
“The developer has been very accommodating in retaining the tree and undertaking the works when they had permission to remove it.”
Mark Becker, technical director at Redrow South East, said: “Work has been undertaken on the tree in question in line with the approved plans due to its position on the site.
“We are working with an arboriculturist to ensure the process is carried out properly and they are advising and reviewing the different stages of the works.
“As part of the wider community being built, a detailed landscaping scheme has been designed and approved, including new ponds to promote biodiversity.”