As part of the assessment work in support of the planning application for 23 homes at Oak Road, up-to-date tree survey work has been undertaken due to consultee responses and questions. Our independent Arborists have rigorously re-surveyed each of the existing trees surrounding the site, including the line of beech trees along Oak Road. The original survey was carried out by clustering the trees, i.e. examining the trees in small groups, and a report detailing the outcomes of the survey was submitted to East Devon District Council, as the relevant local authority. By then, the survey was over a year old, which was raised as a concern by consultees, such as ward councillor Cllr Jessica Bailey and the county tree officer. In response to a subsequent request from East Devon District Council, Morrish Homes’ Arborists returned to site to inspect the trees individually.

As a result of doing this, it has now become clear that one of the beech trees; T29 in the survey, has been infected by a malicious fungus, known as Kretzschmaria deusta. The fungal infection has colonised the lower stem and root system of the tree, causing significant decay to its roots and butt. When struck by a sounding hammer, the tree trunk sounds hollow at the base, which means that it has been weakened to such a degree that the tree is in immediate danger of falling down. It has therefore become a real and present danger to pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, motorists and any other users of Oak Road.

Morrish Homes has reported these results to East Devon District Council and applied for T29 to be removed. In acknowledgement of the now immediate danger to members of the public, the Council has responded within 48 hours and provided the required permission for its removal. Morrish Homes will now proceed by appointing tree surgeons for this work to be carried out.

It is important to note that the removal of T29 was never required for the purpose of the proposed housing development. Diligent scrutiny of the submitted tree survey report led to the requirement to conduct a more detailed inspection of the individual trees, which is how the dangerous state of T29 was identified. Oak Road is likely to be closed for a short period of time and whilst the felling is taking place, members of the public will be requested to use the signposted diversions. The project team thanks everyone for their patience in this matter.

It can also be confirmed that part of East Devon’s permission to remove this tree is the requirement to replace it with a Beech or Oak tree of 8–10cm in diameter. This will be conducted as detailed within East Devon’s permission letter, which requires one-for-one replacement to take place “in the first planting season following removal (November to March)”. This is subject to the local authority receiving detail in writing of the tree proposed, its size and location and them providing written acceptance.

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