In Buckingham’s Year of the Tree, the Town Council’s Planning Committee has recently played a part in saving several trees. Applications to fell or work on trees with preservation orders (TPOs) or in the Conservation Area are made to the local planning authority, Buckinghamshire Council, then circulated to town councillors and volunteer Buckingham Tree Wardens for comment.
The Committee takes a particular interest in applications to fell or reduce trees prominent in the townscape, and over the years has noticed a disturbingly high number of applications for trees to be felled being approved, even when the justification for doing so was not straightforward.
But recent interventions by the Committee have prevented the lopping of 2-3m off a group of Cypress trees on Wagland’s Garden, and the felling of a White Fir on London Road; all had TPOs in place, and Buckinghamshire Council agreed that the trees were important in the landscape and that the applicants had provided insufficient evidence of need. The Cypress trees form part of a long line of protected trees that were preserved when the garden was built over, while the White Fir was planted when the Sainsbury’s building which it backs onto was still a cinema, making both a part of Buckingham’s social history, as well as an asset towards maintaining the green look and biodiversity of Buckingham.
The current Buckingham Neighbourhood Development Plan includes policies to protect existing trees and the provision of trees in developments (DHE1), and to
maintain and increase the green infrastructure and biodiversity of Buckingham (DHE2-5).
In the past, the Town Council signed up to the Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees, Woods and People which, amongst other pledges, recognises that “The trees that touch us most are those that live among us, along our street, in the local park, beside our school or place of work.” The saving of trees such as these from unnecessary felling is a mark of how important trees are to Buckingham as a whole.
Councillor Mark Cole JP, chairman of Buckingham Town Council’s Planning Committee said “After the loss of prominent and healthy mature trees, notably on Page Hill, which we fought to preserve, we are starting to see that the tide has turned. Too often we are told that insurance companies insist that they be felled to avoid damage to the buildings they insure, even when they and their roots are some distance away. This is Buckingham’s Year of the Tree, and we are working with our volunteer tree wardens to preserve the treescape and to encourage the planting of more, to make our beautiful green town even greener.”