This would have negative impacts on the ecology and character of Hough End. The developer would be removing very large (height of 11 – 17m high), mature, quality and healthy Category B trees as part of the development including Ash, Sycamores, Red Norway Maple and London Plane. As Category B trees, it is unacceptable for these to be felled as part of the development. Given the maturity of the trees consideration should be given to listing these trees under a Tree Preservation Order.
Additionally, a young Oak tree would be lost. Oaks host the most species out of all the native woodland trees and are hugely beneficial in a woodland. At 5m high, the developers consider it small enough to transplant; however, it is unrealistic to successfully transplant an oak of 5 metres high, since it will be over 10 years’ old and have formed a significant root system. Loss of trees has a range of negative effects including reduced carbon capture and storage, reduced removal of air pollutants and particulate matter, loss of wildlife habitat, reduced capacity of the ground to absorb surface water, and increased noise pollution (mature trees are excellent sound absorbers). The proposed mitigation measures to replace over 23 of the lost trees are inadequate. It takes many years for any new trees to become established in order to confer the same or similar benefits as the lost trees.
Furthermore, the planner (Case Officer Principal Planner Rob Griffin) commented himself that there would be ‘zero loss of viable trees’ and that the use of a mitigation strategy depends on the quality and maturity of the new trees proposed. These would have to equal or improve on the quality of the native Ash and Oak that would be lost. This would be very hard to do.
The Softball Planning Statement identifies a further area adjacent to Chorlton Brook that would require culling. This area is identified as a wildlife corridor along the Brook and therefore has significant benefits for nature.
On this basis the proposal is unacceptable and should be refused.