18.09.2020

GT responds to England Tree Strategy consultation

The Gardens Trust has highlighted in its response to the England Tree Strategy consultation that only limited reference is made to ‘historic landscape features’. Specific reference to historic parks and gardens is required to ensure that new tree planting respects the design character of these irreplaceable designed landscapes.

As the statutory consultee for over 1700 registered historic parks and gardens in England and Wales, our remit is to actively monitor and respond to planning proposals for development. We support sustainable future development, but strongly object to proposals which will have a detrimental impact on the significance of these valuable and irreplaceable heritage assets. The Gardens Trust supports plans which show a clear understanding of the significances of each place, and embody explicit conservation objectives. This ensures that the unique qualities of each landscape can be preserved for future generations.

We are concerned that the consultation includes only limited reference to ‘historic landscape features’. It does not sufficiently highlight historic parks and gardens and their setting to ensure that new tree planting proposals, which will be a significant feature of land management in future, take into account the design character if the historic planted landscape.

The only mention of historic landscapes is in the section entitled ‘Creating space for nature’ on page 7, which says: ‘At the same time, when planning for new trees and woodlands, we must be sensitive to existing features and habitats, ensuring the condition of priority habitats, such as peatland are not compromised. …The same also applies to pre-historic and historic landscape features and artefacts, where the UKFS expects the impact of woodland creation and forestry on historic landscape features and artefacts to be considered to ensure they are appropriately conserved.’

GT concerns about Tree Strategy

The three key concerns we have about the current tree strategy are:

1. Lack of planning mechanism relating to new tree planting

Tree planting must be subject to planning policy criteria relating to the setting of historic designed landscapes to enable appropriate consultation. The strategy must require that the wider impacts of new forestry or woodland planting on the landscape setting of historic landscapes are identified.

2. Planning for green/wildlife/cycle/walking corridors

Green corridors for wildlife or leisure should fall within a planning mechanism to ensure that appropriate consultation is achieved where these potentially have a detrimental impact on the historic designed landscape.

3. Veteran Trees

The strategy should include clear statutory protection for veteran trees. It is vital that veteran trees receive careful protection. For example, sufficient space needs to be left around them if they are being surrounded by new woodland.

The Gardens Trust looks forward to having the opportunity to engage in future consultation on the proposed strategy to ensure that this embodies appropriate protection for historic designed landscapes and veteran trees.

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