Property News & Views

A first in Britain - Proceeds of Crime Act takes effect.

26th Mar 2019

A businessman who hacked the branches off a tree that was blocking sunlight from his home was ordered to pay back the £21,000 it added to the value of his £1m property in the first case of its kind in Britain.

In total the home owner was ordered to pay almost £40,000, covering the legal costs, £1,200 fine and the amount the illegal act added to the value of his home.

A court heard that in 2016 the home owner added a new Juliet balcony to the master bedroom of his luxury house in affluent Canford Cliffs in Poole, Dorset.

But afterwards he realised it was left covered in shade by the 42ft tall oak tree in his south-west facing back garden.

The mature specimen was subject to a tree preservation order and needed permission from the local authority to cut it back.

Instead he ignored its protected status and 'virtually destroyed' it by chopping off 12ft long branches, allowing sunlight to hit the back of his property.

It left the tree looking butchered and experts say they doubt it will ever properly recover.

A neighbour reported the destruction to Poole Borough Council and an investigation was launched.

The home owner pleaded guilty to a charge of causing the willful damage to a protected tree at a previous hearing and appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court for sentencing. He was fined £1,200 for the offence.

After that, Poole Council used the Proceeds of Crime Act to recoup the amount of money benefited from the crime.

Two council surveyors estimated the added value to the detached house was £21,750 and £30,000 respectively.

He became the first person to be dealt with under Proceeds of Crime Act for a case involving damaging a tree to improve light.

Andy Dearing, enforcement team manager at Poole council, said: "We are not aware of any other case in the UK where there has been a Proceeds of Crime case based on the benefit of improved light to a property from the destruction of a tree.

"This whole case was about the sunlight to the back of a property.

"What was the reason and motivation for climbing a 40ft oak tree to remove large limbs from it?

"The only logical conclusion was it was to create south west sunlight to the back garden and on to his Juliet balcony.

"In this case the maximum fine would have been £2,500.

"But the Proceeds of Crime Act took the matter to another level, because it looked at the benefit of that criminal activity and we said it was to gain an increase of between £21,000 to £30,000 in the value of his property."

Local estate agent Peter Scott added - '' Please check with your local council if a tree you need to prune back or cut down is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). If in doubt ask someone to have a look and get it in writing from the council''. 

For advice on your property matters contact Peter Scott Estate Agents on 01753 201 232. 


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