Builders who axed trees have bid for Lenzie housing development rejected on appeal

A representative of the Forestry Commission surveys the damage after the tree felling
A representative of the Forestry Commission surveys the damage after the tree felling

Campaigners are claiming victory after developers who axed 70 trees at a site in Lenzie had their appeal to build homes there rejected.

Muir Homes ripped up the trees in March despite being denied planning permission last November by East Dunbartonshire Council to build seven houses at the woodland site at the junction of Initiative Road an Garngaber Road.

The company had hoped to win their appeal.

But a Reporter appointed by Scottish Government Ministers gave it the thumbs down — because it would further seriously comprise the trees.

The builders have already been threatened with prosecution by the Forestry Commission if they fail to replant the dozens of trees they tore down.

In his written finding, Reporter Mike Croft wrote: “The appeal project fails because of the very important detail of impact on trees.

“I therefore conclude, for the reasons set out, that the proposed development does not accord overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there are no material considerations which would still justify granting planning permission”.

Campaigner Alice May said: “In addition to contradictory information they provided about the proximity of the development site to the root protection zone of the protected trees, the necessary removal of the embankment would further seriously compromise the trees. This isn’t in keeping with the Local Plan’s requirement to look after existing trees.

Fellow protestor Jason Stone said: “We’re extremely pleased that the appeal was refused but we know Marstons and Muir are very likely to submit another planning application as soon as they can.

“Before they do so, we urge them to start a proper and meaningful consultation with the local community. So far, they have behaved as though we are a nuisance but it’s never too late to begin acting more responsibly and we’re ready to engage with them if they reach out to us.”

Alice added: “This decision sends a clear message to the developers that they can’t just do as they please. It’s good news but it doesn’t bring back the 70-plus trees that were destroyed. We still want to know why the council didn’t act to protect them and we will be pursuing this issue vigorously over the coming weeks and months.”

When the Herald contacted East Dunbartonshire Council during the felling of the trees in March, planning chiefs said they were powerless to stop the felling. Thomas Glen, Depute Chief Executive said at the time: “The council’s planning service has confirmed that the trees within the site are not subject to a Tree Preservation Order or within a conservation area, therefore the landowner does not require planning permission to cut them down.”

However, in an updated response in April, Mr Glen said the council had requested the developer cease chopping the trees until the outcome of the appeal.

He said: “It is the developer’s responsibility to ensure they have all relevant permissions and rights to carry out works.

“Despite confirming that the trees within the site were not subject to a Tree Preservation Order or within a Conservation Area, the developer was asked to cease works by Council officers until the outcome of a planning appeal.

“However, despite the Council’s request, the developer proceeded to fell the trees.

“The felling of the trees did not require any permission from the Council so there were no powers available to us to stop it.

“The felling licence is a separate requirement administered by the Forestry Commission through its own legislation.

“Council officers were in regular contact with the Forestry Commission to assist them with their investigation and have been regularly visiting the site to ensure that all protected trees are being retained”.

Muir Homes was unavailable for comment.