We are writing to highlight the misinformation circulated in Taylor Wimpey’s recent marketing document. Apologies, I meant to say, “August 2023 – Update.” This document may have been delivered to your letterbox or encountered on social media. If not, you can read the relevant and appropriately torn-up sections below.
Over the next few days, divided into three parts for easier digestion, even though Taylor Wimpey’s destructive plans and behaviour are hard to stomach, we will address the same questions you have raised, as presented by Taylor Wimpey, so you can decide who the merchants of misleading information actually are!
To learn more about Taylor Wimpey’s attack on trees and wildlife in Shoeburyness, visit: https://chainsawmassacre.uk. Here you can read the Destruction Report and see their devastating plans for mature trees, embankment and wildlife habitat to build an apartment block.
The following two initial responses are to be read alongside Taylor Wimpey’s “August 2023 – Update”. The relevant sections from Taylor Wimpey’s document are presented before Our response.
Which trees are being removed?
With Southend Council’s approval on 5th July 2023, Taylor Wimpey intends to destroy 44 healthy, high-quality trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) (view their location on the Destruction Map). Additionally, 19 healthy, mature trees on the site are also slated for destruction.
Within the category of TPO-protected trees designated for destruction, 41 form a mixed line of mature maple and hawthorn trees situated on the curved embankment in the site’s northeast corner, facing Campfield Road. These trees are positioned behind the larger mature trees scattered on Campfield Green and along the road’s edge.
Taylor Wimpey stood as the only objector to this TPO, asserting that the “trees fall short of the necessary requirements of their TEMPO [Tree Evaluation Method For Preservation Orders] assessment to warrant their inclusion.” Furthermore, Middlemarch, Taylor Wimpey’s environmental consultant, contended that the embankment trees should be classified as a hedgerow, in contradiction to the ‘line of trees’ designation explicitly identified and labelled as such on Taylor Wimpey’s Phase 1 Habitat Map.
In response to Middlemarch’s assertions, two Southend Council Tree Officers visited the site but disagreed with Middlemarch’s assessment about the trees on the embankment (and other trees on the site). In their report tabled at Southend Council’s Development Control Committee meeting in October 2022, Tree Officers stated that the line of trees meets or exceeds the size requirements covered by conservation area protection and that these trees are in good condition with a long life expectancy and score very well on the TEMPO assessment, meriting protection with a TPO for both amenity and expediency. The TEMPO score for the 41 trees on the embankment was 20 out of 25, comfortably placing them within the highest category.
Beyond achieving a high score on the TEMPO assessment, Southend Council Tree Officers emphasised that the line of trees had evolved into a recognised and distinctive grouping, contributing to the local landscape. These trees are observable behind the larger roadside trees. An Ash tree has been cut down among these larger trees, resulting in a notable void along the roadside frontage. The embankment and its trees are crucial in bridging this substantial gap.
During the TPO disagreement, Middlemarch went so far as to contend that the embankment trees should be classified as a hedgerow, thereby exempting them from the purview of a tree preservation order. However, Southend Council Tree Officers investigated this assertion. They found that, unlike a hedgerow – characterised by closely arranged and deliberately cultivated interlocking crowns – these trees are widely spaced and have not been managed, so they have matured as individual trees.
In October 2022, during Southend Council’s Development Control Committee meeting, a Tree Preservation Order was approved for trees on the Cantel site, garnering support from 13 Councillors.
During the meeting, Councillor Maxine Sadza commented that the trees help improve the air quality for residents who live [and will live] in the area. Committee Chair Councillor Nick Ward concluded that “this will reassure the local residents that they can keep their trees and hopefully have a bit of screening from the new site. I think it is good we upheld this and protected all the trees – it’s good.” (Webcast of Development Control Committee meeting available here: https://tinyurl.com/mup75bzr).
In July 2023, just nine months later, the Development Control Committee of Southend Council reversed this decision and granted permission for Taylor Wimpey’s proposal to destroy 41 mature trees, the embankment, and the wildlife habitat, paving the way for the construction of an apartment block.
What about the impact on the nature and biodiversity of the site?
As a company, Taylor Wimpey’s effect on nature and biodiversity has been profoundly detrimental. Nationally, they have a documented history of eradicating trees and wildlife habitats in their relentless pursuit of profit.
READ ALL ABOUT IT:
- Residents of Taylor Wimpey houses furious over landscaping (7 July 2023): https://tinyurl.com/y93fxu9b
- Frinton housing development sees trees and wildlife ‘massacred’ (18 October 2022): https://tinyurl.com/yksbjadj
- Housing firms slammed for removing trees and hedgerows ‘in error’ (7 May 2021): https://tinyurl.com/p8pbxd25
- “It’s environmental vandalism!”: Powick councillor’s attack on housing developer Taylor Wimpey (17 March 2019) https://tinyurl.com/3vekw8rr
- Taylor Wimpey fells to satisfy Roslin residents angry at loss of trees (11 December 2019): https://tinyurl.com/3at2kvbr
The list goes on and on and on …
Regarding the proposed planting of ‘112 new trees and 540 hedges’ by Taylor Wimpey, it’s important to note that these new trees would need approximately 25-30 years to regain the canopy cover offered by the existing trees on the Cantel site – and this assumes that the new trees manage to reach maturity, a likelihood that is statistically very low. Notably, Taylor Wimpey lacks a system to monitor the survival rates of new trees and hedges, leaving them unable to provide reassurance or address concerns related to the loss of mature trees across their development sites. Consequently, any anticipation of a net increase in biodiversity value through the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) metric becomes speculative and uncertain – a realm of blue-sky crystal ball science!
In exchange for a well-established wildlife habitat that serves as a rich food source and shelter for various wildlife species, encompassing insects, birds, and mammals, Taylor Wimpey offers a cheap ‘wildlife area’. This proposed area includes ‘man-made’ beehives, excavated ground holes (hibernacula), and stacks of logs with holes drilled in them (bug hotels) – presumably fashioned from the very trees slated for destruction.
Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?
PART 2 will be posted in the next couple of days …