I received the planning notification number 172284 for the removal of 2 TPO trees on 13 September. I immediately asked for some more information but I never got a reply. The listed determination date was 9 October. I chased it up with the PC only to get an email stating it was approved on 9 September which was actually before the consultation ever started. I found this odd so I contacted the Manager responsible only for him to state that work to remove healthy trees to implant a planning permission is acceptable and there is no requirement to consult. He added that any comment on this received would have made no difference to the decision. The Manager also stated that there is no legislation requiring consultation with Borough and Parish councillors on TPO applications. The concern I have for this is if this is how Borough and Parish councillors are treated by ignoring localism then what hope have residents got of protecting any healthy tree in conservation areas that are at risk of removal and could Norman assure me that he will look into this matter and report back to the Council?
I think it is important to say that Gary has quite an exchange of emails with the Officers responsible so probably nothing much that I say will be a surprise to him but just to put it on the record. I think that the Officer did say that if there had been a response it may have made no difference rather than would have no difference, just to correct that one point.
Under the TPO Regulations there is no requirement to undertake consultation with the public, Members or Town and Parish councils in respect of tree work applications. This is primarily due to the technical nature of the application. This approach is not a Wokingham Borough Council decision but set out in the legislation.
There is an 8 week period for determining a Tree Works Application (TWA) and this is to allow the authority time to assess the specification, visit the trees and respond with a decision notice. It is incumbent upon councils to determine the TWAs as quickly as possible and there is no formal consultation period. Once a full assessment of the Tree Works Application is undertaken, the Council can determine this.
While the Council does not consult on TWAs, they are given a planning application number and appear on the Council’s website for audit purposes and transparency. The Council also notifies Town and Parish Councils and Ward Members for information only and this is made clear on the notification email. This is to inform members of what is going on in their area and also so they are aware that works to trees are authorised.
In this case, the removal of the trees was necessary to implement a planning application. As consultation was undertaken in respect of the planning application, the Parish Council were given the opportunity to make representations at that time.
With regard to the application not being on the website, I will look into this further and come back to you Gary.