Purity Properties Ltd fined for illegally cutting down protected trees
Property firm Purity Properties Limited (PPL) has received a substantial fine for cutting down trees illegally at a Wellington nursing home.
Director Steven Jagdeep Singh has received a £9,600 fine while the company has been handed a £24,000 fine for removing three trees at The Priory Nursing Home, Spring Hill, Wellington which were protected by a Tree Preservation Order.
At a Telford Magistrates Court hearing yesterday (Tues) the court heard how the offences took place between 30 September and 8 October 2020.
Mr Singh is the sole director of Purity Properties Limited and the owner of the nursing home.
As well as the fines, Purity Properties Ltd and Mr Singh were ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £11,921.50 by District Judge Grego (split equally between Purity Properties Ltd and Mr Singh).
This matter was investigated by Telford & Wrekin Council's planning enforcement team and was prosecuted by the council's in house legal department.
On 6 March, 2020, Mr Singh was told by the council not to start any work on the trees until a decision had been made.
But on 30 September 2020, a council planning enforcement officer visited the Priory and saw two yew trees had been felled and returned a week later to see further tree works taking place which showed a clear, deliberate breach.
Mr Singh himself was observed to be in the cherry picker, removing the remaining limbs from one of the trees.
On sentencing Judge Grego said: “The home is on a list of buildings of local interest and the row of established and mature trees are part of that character and add greatly to it.
“A Tree Preservation Order was granted for five trees at the nursing home in 2005. Clause 4 of the Tree Preservation Order made it clear lopping or otherwise of the trees is prohibited.
“On 6 March an application was made for consent to carry out work to the trees which showed Mr Singh had clear prior knowledge of the Tree Preservation Order.”
A valuation report prepared by an expert surveyor established the increased value in terms of further development potential on the site of the nursing home as a result of removing the trees was in the region of £22,500.
Following the case, Telford & Wrekin Council is highlighting the advice it can offer to residents and businesses before they undertake any works to Tree Preservation Order trees and make them aware that the penalty for any breach is an unlimited fine.
Councillor Richard Overton (Lab), Telford & Wrekin Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Enforcement and Transport said: “Preserving trees is important for the environment and makes the Telford and Wrekin borough a more attractive place to live.
“A Tree Preservation Order aims to protect different types and species of trees and woodlands from deliberate damage or destruction.
“We had told Mr Singh not to start work on removing trees at The Priory but he continued to do so despite the Tree Preservation Order being in place.
“We want to work closely with our residents and businesses to offer advice and clear direction as much as possible before they remove trees at their properties, but the fine handed out in this case shows that a clear breach of the order will not be tolerated.”
Mr Singh has currently appealed the Tree Replacement Notice which was served in 2021. The council are currently waiting for the Planning Inspectorate’s decision.
You can find out more about Telford & Wrekin Council Tree Preservation Orders and applications for consent here.
Photo: The scene at The Priory Nursing Home after the trees were cut down.