An Avenue is defined as "a broad road in a town or city, typically having trees at regular intervals along its sides" The Avenue in Lower Sunbury is arguably the most iconic residential thoroughfare in the Borough largely due to the linear form of mature horse chestnut trees which both pre-date and have framed the detached houses for generations.
Indeed, we were inspired to adopt the horse chestnut tree as our emblematic logo at the Association's inception 50 years ago.
In recent years, whether through disease, the need to provide more parking spaces or, more sadly, for reasons of capricious fancy, many of these protected trees have been felled, unlawfully in some cases. (In January Spelthorne Borough Council successfully prosecuted a man for the breach of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) for cutting the roots of a Horse Chestnut Tree in The Avenue without the authority of the Council).
Early last year, following receipt of a number of complaints, the Council enforcement officer carried out a tree survey of The Avenue to identify all the protected trees that have either died or have been removed with or without approval but not replaced. The aim of this survey was to encourage as many owners as possible to replace the trees with a whitebeam (sorbus aria) as recommended by the Tree Officer.
A letter was sent out to all the addresses identified on The Avenue specifying the replacement tree and a deadline by the planning office of 31 March 2022 was given. The response has been mixed. Some owners were delighted with this initiative and have already planted the replacement tree; others have refused for various reasons and some have simply ignored the letter.
Now that the deadline has passed the Enforcement Officer will be carrying out a survey to identify those that have not complied.
This may then progress to enforcement action such as prosecution.
It would be a great pity if it had to come to this. Householders in The Avenue may be the owners of the land on which the trees are situated but are the custodians of these precious assets for present and future generations.