The discovery of ‘lost’ tree preservation orders on a green belt site identified for potential housing could strengthen the argument for its continuation as open space.

The site, lying south of Oakroyd Avenue and to the west of Barnet Road in Potters Bar – and known as PB3 – has been the scene of much wrangling as local Conservatives have tried to push for housing on this site, whilst trying to protect a competing one by promoting a spurious hotel and leisure development.

The revelation came as members of Hertsmere Climate Group began surveying the site and measuring 40 free standing oak trees and hedgerows that date back at least 200 years. However, most of the trees appeared not to be on a readily available Hertmere Borough Council list.

Delving into the archives, HCG’s Susan Ballard discovered that many of the trees had been protected over a 39 year period. Said Susan: “The TPO map only shows a few, so at first glance it would appear that there are not that many. However, if you access the TPO register it becomes clear that there many many more. But unless you know the year or the number you have to trawl through 39 years worth of records.”

There was no mention of all the existing TPOs in documents prepared for the Local Plan review by Arup in their green belt assessment, or in LUC’s environmental assessments.

The discovery means that this area of green belt land has long been recognised locally as unspoilt agricultural land with important trees and hedgerows and having great rural views.

Continued Susan: We have asked the new Head of Planning and Economic Development to ensure that the Local Plan team incorporate all this newly found information into the current review so that the importance of protecting this land from development is recognised. We have also asked that they remedy the issue of accessibility to the information.”
An extract from the register showing some of the
An extract from the register showing some of the 'lost' TPOs
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