Darlington teacher banned by council from pruning huge tree towering over her house

Nothing can be done about the overgrown tree as it is covered by a tree preservation order. Credit: Evening Gazette

A Darlington teacher has been banned from pruning a huge tree which towers over her home.

The lime tree has shot up since Celia Senior moved into her detached house on Brompton Way in 2007.

It is now 72 feet tall and still growing, however, because it is covered by a tree preservation order, the 57-year-old is unable to carry out any pruning without permission from Darlington Borough Council.

The primary school teacher said: "It’s been quite stressful. I’m quite a resilient person, but I do get quite fed up with it.

"Someone could say, well you could move, and I could, but I like where I live and it would be a shame because I like the tree. It just needs to be managed, that’s all."

She said: "It’s made me more anxious, definitely. It was that that got me thinking we’re going to have do something about this tree, because along Cemetery Lane there was about 15 trees uprooted that were bigger than this one. I thought if it can do that - what would this one do."

Her application to prune the tree was refused a month after its submission.

Ms Senior paid for an independent arborists report in December 2021 which stated that while the tree is healthy, it is large for its location.

The report continued to say: "Without suitable management this tree will continue to increase in size, both vertically and laterally".

The tree surgeon recommended reducing and thinning the crown which would help ease the affects of strong winds on the tree- something that has been a concern for Ms Senior following Storm Arwen last year.

Ms Senior took this advice and lodged an appeal with the planning inspector in January but is still waiting for a response.

Her main concern is that if the tree is not appropriately managed it will continue to grow past its current 72ft and could risk damage to her house.

Moss from the lime tree has caused problems for Ms Senior previously resulting in clogging and cracked gutters and she has also moved her television aerial as the tree has doubled in size since she moved into the property 15 years ago.

She has the full support of her neighbours on Brompton Walk, who agree that the tree needs tending to and who do not have an issue with the work being carried out.

One neighbour even expressed fears that the 72ft tree could fall on their own house behind Celia's property.

Celia says she doesn't want the tree cut down, she just wants to manage it. Credit: Evening Gazette

A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: “We can confirm permission was refused for the tree works and we understand the house owner has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

"It would not be appropriate to comment while we, like the householder, await the outcome of the appeal.”

It adds: "Without any satisfactory justification, the proposed crown lift and associated pruning would result in a loss of natural form to a protected tree in acceptable condition with no safety concerns, furthermore the application has not provided any structural reasons for the proposed work."