How a lime tree is causing ructions in a South Shields village

Mature tree felled to make way new build land on St Mary's Avenue
Mature tree felled to make way new build land on St Mary's Avenue

a CAMPAIGNER is refusing to be felled in a bid to block a housing development in one of the borough’s oldest terraces – despite a tree having to be axed to make way for it.

Householders in Sunderland Road, Harton Village, were left shocked in September last year after South Tyneside Council’s planning committee approved a four-bedroom house on their doorstep.

Jim Lawson opposed to neighbours plans to build house in rear garden

Jim Lawson opposed to neighbours plans to build house in rear garden

They claimed the property was being “squeezed into too small a plot” to accommodate it satisfactorily, and they were unhappy that a lime tree would have to be chopped down to make way for it.

Residents were not allowed to appeal against that decision to the Planning Inspectorate, but a complaint was submitted to local government ombudsman Anne Seex, but she has yet to respond.

Yesterday, council contractors appeared on the development site to start work to fell the lime tree, paving the way for construction of the new property.

That move would appear to mark the end of any hope of a last-minute U-turn, but one of the protesters, Jim Lawson, is refusing to give up.

Our main objection was not really against the loss of the lime tree. It was against the loss of a shared piece of land that is a natural garden and an asset to the area.

He said: “Our main objection was not really against the loss of the lime tree. It was against the loss of a shared piece of land that is a natural garden and an asset to the area.

“We believe a covenant on the land prevents this development. We are in discussions with a solicitor over this covenant and whether it can be enforced. In theory, the house could be built and it could have to be pulled down if that covenant is proved to be enforceable.

“I have been unhappy at the way this has been dealt with from the outset.

“When the application went before the planning committee, the officers recommended its refusal, but it was given the go-ahead by the elected members, which is very unusual.

“Additionally, we have concerns about the future of protected beech and cherry trees on the land. We believe they could be in danger from any future applications.”

A council spokesman: “Planning applications are assessed on their own merits, taking into account a range of planning matters.

“Although trees were an issue, there were other circumstances to consider.

“The members’ reason for granting consent was that, in their judgement, having had the opportunity of visiting the site, and taking account of the previous planning history, which had previously accepted loss of a protected lime tree on several occasions, continued protection of a protected tree was not justified.”

A planning document forbids the removal of any further trees from the Sunderland Road site without council approval.

The document states: “With the exception of the protected lime tree, which must be removed to facilitate the development, no further works to any protected trees may be undertaken without the written consent of this council being first obtained.”

Twitter: @shieldspaulgaz