UKTC Archive

Tree damaging retaining wall

Subject: Tree damaging retaining wall
From: Wright, Matthew
Date: Mar 21 2001 17:40:12
I am currently dealing with a TPO application which includes proposals to
remove quite a significant Holm Oak due to the fact that it is causing
damage to a retaining wall. The pertinent points are:

*       the Holm Oak is a fairly mature, multi-stemmed tree which, although
not of huge significance in the wider landscape, is an important feature for
users of a private road. The loss of the tree would be of significant
detriment to the amenity of users of the road. In amenity and landscape
terms it is therefore highly desirable to retain the tree if at all
*       the base of the tree is only just over 1 metre from a retaining wall
(waist-high) which separates the area of land on which the tree stands from
the lower ground level (c1.5m wide) around the rear of a neighbouring
building: the wall is bowing out significantly away from the tree and now
appears in danger of collapse. The pressure from the growth of the tree is
contributing significantly to this damage.
*       in my opinion, the retaining wall could be rebuilt without causing
major damage to the tree, thereby allowing the tree to remain is situ for
several (possibly many) more years. This could also be a cheaper option than
removing the tree since the wall needs to be rebuilt regardless of whether
the tree stays or goes. Damage is, however, likely to recur in the future
due to the proximity and future growth potential of the tree unless the new
wall is moved further from the tree (there would be scope to perhaps move
the wall c0.5m further from the base of the tree) and designed to take
account of its presence. I have consulted the applicant and he is not keen
on this approach and is not at all keen on retaining the tree.

*       the surrounding landscape contains several very large, mature
specimen trees (Plane, Beech etc.) which are of great importance and are
dominant features. The importance of the Holm Oak is limited in comparison
to these trees and I do not consider that  the tree is of sufficient
importance in the wider landscape to be considered of "special" or
"outstanding" amenity value. I do not, therefore, consider that an Article 5
certificate (the Order is pre-August 1999) could be justified in this
instance. The Council could therefore be held liable (for 12 months from the
date of the decision) for any damage (i.e. the collapse of the retaining
wall) resulting from a decision not to allow the tree's removal.


Since the applicant is unwilling to play ball in taking measures to enable
the retention of this tree, I consider that the liability issues that would
result from refusing the removal of the tree mean that my only real option
is to allow the tree to be removed and condition replacement planting at a
more suitable position in relation to surrounding structures. This will,
however, result in significant harm to local amenity in the short to medium
term. Any ideas for alternative solutions?


Matthew Wright
Landscape & Tree Officer
Planning Services, Exeter City Council, Civic Centre, Paris Street,  Exeter
Ph:  01392 XXXXXX   Fax: 01392 XXXXXX  e-mail:

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