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Decision details

War Memorial Trees

Decision Maker: Co-operative Executive

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Update to Cabinet on the proposals for war memorial trees on Western Road, Tay Street, Oxford Street and Binfield Road.



The Executive Director, Place submitted a report updating Cabinet on the city’s first ever long term investment plan in the city’s war memorial trees and in particular reporting back to Cabinet on the costs of engineering solutions to retain war memorial street trees on Western Road, Tay Street, Oxford Street, Springvale Road and Binfield Road, as well as proposals for Heathfield Road. Following the report to the Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee on the Western Road memorial trees, the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Streetscene asked that Amey be commissioned to carry out outline design work for tree retention works in sufficient detail to enable an estimate of the level of additional funding needed to be provided to Cabinet.




RESOLVED: That Cabinet:-





supports the long term investment plan in the city’s war memorial trees as set out in the report;






notes the costs of an estimated £500,000 involved in carrying out engineering solutions to retain 41 war memorial trees on Western Road, Tay Street, Oxford Street and Binfield Road and, in particular notes the partial and short term nature of these solutions, and therefore, requests that Amey undertake the required tree replacement work on the roads as originally planned within the terms of the Streets Ahead Contract, including a review of practical options to replant some of the original trees;






approves 300 new memorial trees to be planted in Sheffield’s parks by the Council before November 2018 to create a permanent lasting war memorial for the city;






approves that, following discussions with residents on the war memorial streets, practical and affordable options be considered to replant trees that were lost and not replaced in previous years prior to the current Streets Ahead contract; and






guarantees that the 300 new trees in parks and any possible replacement trees on the war memorial streets, be replanted in perpetuity.





Reasons for Decision




The report aims to indicate the costs of retaining the 41 war memorial trees. The report points out the estimated cost of around £500k to retain these trees.




The recommendations in the report point to the importance of war memorial trees and the suggested long term commitment and investment plan for these trees.




The trees on Heathfield Road are in a wide grass verge. As a result, the trees that required work or replacement were not causing any damage to the highway or private property but were dead or dying. There is a provision within the contract for up to 600 ‘missing trees’ to be replaced at no cost to the Council. It is recommended that 20 of these are used to restore this memorial.




Western Road has the largest number of memorial trees. There were originally 97 trees, but over the years this number has reduced to 54, of which 23 now fall into the replacement categories. Potential replacement works will ensure that the memorial continues but has been met with concerns amongst some residents and that led to further in-depth investigations of the Independent Tree Panel (ITP) advice. Sensitive excavation by Airspade was carried out and this confirmed that the ITP suggested root bending and pruning was simply not possible on such large mature trees.




In order to fully explore the cost of the engineering works to attempt to retain the trees on Western Road, Amey were commissioned to carry out preliminary design work and from that derive a robust estimate of the cost of the works. This estimate is £310,090.




Looking specifically at Western Road where more detailed work has been carried out, there are other impacts to consider. These include;

·         Each tree will need a build-out into the road which is an average of 5m long. This will mean a loss of approximately 35 parking spaces along the length of Western Road should the trees be retained.

·         The road will be reduced in width even when the level of parking is low due to the regular build-outs

·         One way working was considered but it was felt that this could lead to an unacceptable increase in traffic speeds and therefore lead to road safety issues

·         Some of the work may still not be possible as it may cause problems with private property threshold levels and could result in water from the road running into the property

·         Where work to utilities apparatus has been identified (such as to the BT chamber opposite number 239) no account of the costs for any diversion/re-location works have been included. Any such costs would be determined by the utility affected and be payable to them

·         Where root damage is occurring to private property leaving trees in place by carrying out these works will exacerbate this problem for the residents and will lead to insurance claims. The existing visible damage is covered in the estimates but the costs could increase once any work is commenced as further damage may become apparent

·         Ultimately the houses could become uninsurable





It has been demonstrated earlier in the report that the option to retain the damaging trees would be a significant cost to the Council and provides only a partial and potentially short term solution, given the continuing damage caused by the trees (as they continue to grow) and the on-going and significant impact on residents in terms of traffic and parking restrictions; damage to property and related insurance issues.




The option of doing nothing to the 41 trees which fall into the Council’s replacement categories i.e. leaving the trees and the streets and not committing to any form of mitigation for the 41 trees, is not acceptable given the Council has a legal duty under the Highways Act to maintain the highway in a safe condition. Equally, the do nothing option potentially exposes the Council’s budget to long term and potentially increasing insurance claims from property owners and accident claims from users of the paths and highway; it also leaves the street in a condition of poor accessibility to the most vulnerable members of the community, and finally, it leaves the Council open to increasing costs of ‘patch and repair’ over many years.




Alternatives Considered and Rejected




The review covers the war memorial trees that are classed as dead, dying, dangerous, diseased, damaging or discriminatory.




It should be noted that the damaging category applies to third party property as well as the public highway. In some instances the damage to third party property extends beyond damaging drives and garden walls to serious damage affecting the actual house that may in time require underpinning works.




Where trees are damaging property this would continue even if the highway works to retain trees was carried out. It is also possible that trees not currently causing any property damage would do so in time as they continue to grow. Equally, the engineering works may offer only short to medium term solutions given the trees will continue to grow and impact on the street environment and surrounding properties. If the trees are not replaced this will lead to potentially expensive claims against Amey or the council.




Where the streets were referred to the ITP, the alternatives to replacement were suggested in their advice letters as below:




Western Road

23 trees referred to ITP.

ITP agreed with SCC for replacement of 11 and proposed engineering works on 12. Eleven trees are damaging private property. The Council carried out a further detailed review, including Airspade excavations to check root locations and found that it could not agree with the ITP advice on any of the 12 trees they proposed engineering works for.




Tay Street

Not included in Household Survey as no residences.

2 trees to replace. Both are damaging the highway and one is dying.




Oxford Street

8 trees referred to ITP.

ITP agreed with the Council for replacement of 4 and proposed engineering works on 4. Following further review, the Council agreed with ITP advice and have found a solution to retain 3 of the four trees the ITP advised could be retained.




Binfield Road

6 trees referred to ITP but the tree outside number 23 was worked round prior to their inspections.

ITP agreed with the Council for replacement of 4 and proposed engineering works on 1. Following further review, the Council could not agree with ITP advice on the single tree it suggested could be retained. One tree is damaging private property.




Springvale Road

2 trees referred to ITP.

ITP agreed with the Council for replacement of both trees. Both are causing damage to the highway.




Heathfield Road

Streets Ahead works were carried out in 2014 and the street was not therefore included in the Household Survey. Only two trees needed to be replaced for condition reasons, but there are others missing that failed many years ago. The request is from a Veterans Association that the remaining trees are all replaced as they are poor specimens, along with new planting to reinstate the memorial.




In summary, all options suggested by the ITP have been considered in detail and, where possible, accepted. In the majority of trees, the advice was ultimately rejected as either not practical and/or would incur expenditure outside the core funding for Streets Ahead. It should also be noted that many of the engineering solutions will only give a temporary solution to the damage being caused and the tree will still require replacement at some point. Where trees are damaging third party property, it is almost always as a result of damage caused by roots. If the tree is not replaced, this damage will continue irrespective of any engineering solutions and will almost certainly give rise to claims against the Council or Amey and may make houses uninsurable.




Any Interest Declared or Dispensation Granted








Reason for Exemption if Public/Press Excluded During Consideration








Respective Director Responsible for Implementation




Laraine Manley, Executive Director, Place




Relevant Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee If Decision Called In




Economic and Environmental Wellbeing


Report author: Philip Beecroft

Publication date: 19/12/2017

Date of decision: 13/12/2017

Decided at meeting: 13/12/2017 - Co-operative Executive

Effective from: 03/01/2018

Accompanying Documents: