Restaurant fined £10,000 for cutting down mature trees
Wednesday 31 March: Hillingdon Council has prosecuted a restaurant business in Swakeleys Road, Ickenham after its owners commissioned the felling of two trees in a conservation area without consent.
Appearing before Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 23 March, Birothi Property Limited was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £181.
The company had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one offence of permitting the cutting down of two mature ash trees within Ickenham village conservation area without giving required notice or obtaining consent from the council.
The court was told that the owners wanted to erect an outbuilding at the rear of the restaurant and the trees were cut down to enable this to be done.
The matter first came to the attention of the council in April last year after complaints from local residents.
Officers launched an investigation and, during an inspection of the site, discovered grind pits where two mature trees had once stood.
Investigators also reviewed aerial footage and photographs of the original trees. They concluded that the two ash trees were of significant amenity value, and permission for their removal would not have been granted.
As a result, the council decided to prosecute the company and seek a formal order requiring them to replace the trees.
On Thursday 1 October, the council served an order requiring Birothi Property Limited to replant two ash trees or two trees of a native species with a similar mature size. This has since been done. The young trees have been afforded the same protection as the ones that were removed.
Cllr Edward Lavery, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, Housing and Regeneration, said: "Felling trees in a conservation area is a serious crime and we are pleased that the court recognised this by imposing a significant fine.
"In addition, the trees were much loved and added a great deal of character to the neighbourhood, as well as providing privacy for neighbouring residential properties. As a result, there were many complaints about their removal.
"This action demonstrates that the council takes breaches of planning control very seriously and will take tough enforcement action to preserve our green spaces."
- In conservation areas, notice is required (consent from the council) for works to trees that have a trunk diameter of more than 75 millimetres when measured at 1.5 metres from ground level. Doing so without consent is a criminal offence under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
- Anyone who owns land within a conservation area who removes, uproots or destroys a tree in breach of an order is legally required to replace it. This includes if a tree is removed because it's dead or presents an immediate risk of harm.
- Councils may also impose conditions requiring replacement planting when granting consent for the removal of trees.
- Birothi Property Limited was required to plant two trees of a standard size (two to three metres), supported by two stakes. It was also required to complete appropriate ground preparations and plant the trees between November and March (planting season).