Trees are a distinctive feature of the Oxton Conservation Area and the Oxton Society has a concern for their preservation and improvement.
Oxton’s distinctive treescape
Trees are an integral part of the Conservation Area and were specifically mentioned by Wirral Borough Council when it established the Conservation Area in 1979. You can obtain a quick view of the prominence of tree cover in the Conservation Area, compared with adjacent areas, by searching Google Maps’ satellite images using the postcode CH43 5SS (in the rough centre of the Conservation Area) Click here.
You will see how tree cover distinguishes the Conservation Area from much of its surroundings to the south, east and west. This is not accidental. It is due to planning, the control of casual felling/mismanagement.and the care and attention given to their trees by their owners.
A very large number of the trees are mature, dating back to the 19th century when the Village experienced its major period of growth and development. Unlike so much modern urban planting the Oxton treescape is characterised by a great variety of different species, the various colour and shapes of which add immeasurably to the quality of the area while providing a shelter and haven for wildlife.
What visitors see today is almost exclusively thanks to the private owners who sustain this valuable heritage. In fact only six trees in the whole Conservation Area are actually owned by Wirral Borough Council! The Society promotes the protection and sensitive management of this treescape, while encouraging and financing the planting of new trees of appropriate species to provide continuity for future generations to enjoy.
The Society’s Tree Planting Fund
We encourage the planting of trees and have established a Fund to pay for their sourcing and planting in the Conservation Area. The Tree Planting Scheme is open to all individuals and organisations who own property within the Conservation Area and are members.
There is no cost to the Member. The Tree Planting Fund pays all the costs in return for an undertaking from the owner to regularly water the trees throughout the first summer after planting.
To ensure that the new trees will make a contribution to the future treescape of the Area they must be planted in a place which is visible to the public and be a species or variety that will attain a significant stature for future generations to enjoy. We have prepared a descriptive list of trees suitable for planting in Oxton but we are always willing to consider other suggestions. The selection of a particular tree(s) for planting is always discussed and agreed with the property owner.
Regulations for tree protection
Nationally prescribed regulations for all conservation areas obviously apply to The Oxton Conservation Area! The regulations stipulate that all trees with a trunk diameter of 7.5cm in diameter (about 3 inches) or more, at chest height, are protected and this protection extends to the roots as well. Being protected does not mean that no tree work can be undertaken but it does mean that Wirral Borough Council must be informed before any cutting takes place on a tree or its roots.
The rules differ slightly depending on whether or not a tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO):
(a) If a tree is subject to TPO then no work can be undertaken until Wirral Council has its given explicit approval.
(b) For all other trees in the Conservation Area Wirral Council must be informed, at least 6 weeks before work is commenced, of what work is intended on the tree or its roots. The Council will give its decision and comments within the 6 week period. If no decision is given within that period the intended work can proceed
For both (a) and (b) the same official form is used to notify Wirral Council of your intentions. Click here for a copy that you can print and submit by post. Alternatively you can apply online – follow the links to submitting a planning application and choose “tree work in a conservation area” as your application type. There is no charge for submitting an application. A reputable and qualified consultant or contractor will know the process and submit the paperwork on your behalf.
How is the Oxton Society involved?
The decision as to whether proposed work on trees is acceptable is taken by Wirral Borough Council, not by the Society. However, as the Society is an Advisory Body to the Council, we are asked for our opinion on the proposed work.
We have a Tree Group which is responsible for drafting Society’s response to the Council. The Group comprises interested members and although some have significant experience of working with trees their perspective is not technical. Its comments are reported in our Newsletter and published on this website: link to the section below ‘The Oxton Society’s comments on proposed tree work’
We try to comment on each proposal but, as an Advisory Body, any comments we make do not have to be endorsed by the Council. Ultimately, decisions on proposals are the responsibility of Wirral Council.
We try to make our judgements in an impartial and informed manner and we focus on the impact the proposed work will have on the appearance of the tree and its relationship to other trees, buildings and roads. The Group is particularly concerned about those trees that are visible from a public place although owners must notify Wirral Borough Council of all proposed work – whether or not it can be seen from a public place.
When making visits the Tree Group works within its Code of Practice.
Who should do work on trees?
After Wirral Council has made a decision the owner has to decide who is to do the work. Trees can be ruined and their health and structural stability undermined by unqualified work. We know of a large number of sad instances where someone has called unannounced to claim that “your tree needs pruning”, and offering to do it immediately.
Butchered by cowboys
The results have invariably been hugely expensive (often far more than charged by a qualified person) and destructive. “Butchery” is a typical description of the work they do and they are invariably uninsured so when a limb falls through your roof, blocks a road or damages a neighbour’s car you will have to pay for the consequences. They will certainly be unaware of the British Standard setting out the correct way of undertaking work in a way which is safe and which protects the health and well being of the tree.
In any event all work on trees in the Conservation Area must have the agreement of Wirral Council before it is commenced. A reputable and qualified consultant or contractor can do the application process for you.
There is a golden rule: never, under any circumstances, accept a cold call or respond to unsolicited literature offering to do work on trees. Professionals do not tout for business
Damage caused by amateur pruning
It is not only the cowboy who can damage trees. The well intentioned amateur’s attempt to so something apparently simple can permanently damage a tree leaving it deformed and ugly. Tree pruning is not carpentry! Knowledge is required for both selecting the appropriate branches to cut and then skill is needed to cut living wood. Furthermore, different trees require different approaches and the season and age of the tree is relevant too. To get a preliminary overview of the requirements consult the Royal Horticultural Society website.
How to find a qualified professional?
Wirral Borough Council no longer recommends specific contractors. Although the Society does not give recommendations, its Tree Group knows of contractors who have undertaken work to a high standard in the Conservation Area. Contact the Society on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
It is most important that all work be done by qualified contractors and consultants. The Royal Horticultural Society has produced a useful guide Points to consider before hiring a contractor with a checklist to guide you through the process of finding a qualified tree work professional.
Oxton Society’s comments on proposed tree work
The Society’s comments on applications for tree work during the last 12 months can be viewed here.Please note that Wirral Council determines these applications. Our comments will be taken into account but if you want to know the official result of an application, then you should contact the Council on 0151 691 8193.
May 2016, comments