The owner of a property in the Leicestershire village of Great Dalby has been fined after removing two historic Yew trees from a property within a conservation area without permission.
The trees were an original historic feature situated in the front garden of the former chapel, which currently has a planning application seeking its conversion to a residential property.
Benjamin Paget, who is the owner of the property at Main Street, Great Dalby pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates Court to cutting down both trees, without getting prior approval from Melton Borough Council. As a result, the defendant was ordered to pay £500 per tree (£1000 total plus surcharge of £400) and £1000 in costs by Leicester Magistrates.
Conservation areas exist to manage and protect the special architectural and historic interest of a place – in this case, the features that make Great Dalby unique. Trees often make an important contribution to the character of the areas and are therefore given special protection within a conservation area, which was the reasoning for such case to occur.
The matter was first reported by a concerned local resident, prompting Melton Borough Council to run a comprehensive investigation, with Leicestershire County Council providing some technical support.
Councillor Alison Freer Portfolio Holder for Climate, Access, and Engagement, said: “We are satisfied with the outcome of this successful prosecution. We take enforcement matters very seriously as they impact on the local, natural environment and history of the borough. We are keen to uphold and promote a robust but fair planning enforcement regime to ensure people are not flouting the planning rules and damaging the borough. We will continue to take action when these are being breached and encourage people to seek planning advice before going ahead with work, otherwise they risk criminal proceedings/action.”