Anger as Dorking homebuilder cuts down 40 trees overnight ‘without approval’


Residents and councilors said they were “alarmed” after a property company in Dorking felled around 40 trees without permission. Stonegate Homes have come under fire after they felled a number of pine trees on Aviva’s former home on Pixham Lane which they are currently renting from Surrey County Council.

According to a resident of Dorking, who wished to remain anonymous, the work took place on Sunday May 15 with photos provided to SurreyLive showing the extent of the felling. Along with outcry from locals, there was strong condemnation from the Mole Valley District Council (MVDC.)

Speaking about Stonegate’s work, Councilor Margaret Cooksey, a cabinet member responsible for planning at MVDC, criticized the company. She said the work had been carried out without any prior consultation and the council had now taken action to ensure that no more trees could be felled.

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She said: “Mole Valley District Council is alarmed at the loss of some 40 pines from the Aviva site in Pixham Lane, Dorking. We have issued a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to protect all remaining trees as there is a clear threat.

“We were not aware of any intention to fell trees and were not consulted prior to felling. In the absence of TPO at the time of slaughter, MVDC is unable to take any action other than to consider confirming the order, subject to any objections.

The unnamed resident who spoke to SurreyLive said the move of Stonegate sparked widespread anger in the community. They said they were “unimpressed” with Stonegate’s decision given that many trees could be up to 100 years old.

They said: ‘Some of them are over a meter in diameter so it is likely they were planted when the Victorian house was built on the site. Stonegate doesn’t even own the site.

“I would like Surrey County Council to look into what happened for themselves. I would like to see transparency on what really happened here and for the Surrey and Mole Valley Council to take a strong stance if there have been any breaches.

Photos taken by residents of the former Aviva site at Pixham

Meanwhile, responding to the Stonegate Homes tree felling, Surrey County Council said it was investigating the incident. The local authority, however, did not say whether it would take any potential enforcement act accordingly.

“The county council is under contract to sell the former Aviva campus at Pixham Lane to Stonegate Homes with delayed completion expected in January 2023,” a council spokesperson said. “To support the business agreement, Stonegate has taken out a comprehensive repair and insurance lease of the package, which includes obligations to manage and maintain the campus and to ensure compliance with all regulations.

“The county council has not been notified, and approval has not been sought for the tree removal. We are investigating the matter further and raising similar concerns about the actions taken.”

Stonegate Homes said it would not comment on the story.


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