Owner pays out £4,500 after protected tree chopped down at Northamptonshire village hotel

Contractors bought in to clear fly-tipping at French Partridge felled tree without checking

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 9:21 am
Updated Thursday, 5th August 2021, 9:26 am

The 75-year-old owner of a former Northamptonshire hotel has been landed with a whopping £4,500 court bill after contractors chopped down a tree which had a preservation order on it.

Mahmoud Keder Agha-Hjrous, owner of grade two listed French Partridge in Newport Pagnell Road, Horton, admitted two offences under the Town & Country Planning Act at Northampton

Magistrates’ Court last month.

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The French Partridge on Newport Pagnell Road

The court heard Mr Agha-Hjrous, whose address was given as Earls Court, London, had employed a contractor in January 2020 to clear a patch of land in front of the hotel which had been used by fly-tippers.

However, he mistakenly assumed that if any trees had to be felled, that the contractor would seek the necessary permissions if they were subject to Tree Preservation Orders.

Through his solicitor, Mr Agha-Hjrous agreed that he had made an error and entered guilty pleas.

Magistrates fined him £1,500 for each offence plus ordered him to pay West Northamptonshire Council's costs of £1,321.57 and a £150 surcharge to fund victim services.

Contractors felled protected trees without permission

Cllr Rebecca Breese, West Northants' cabinet member for strategic planning, built environment and rural affairs, said: “Trees are an important part of our environment and our communities, so we have laws which allow us to protect them.

“In this case not only were the trees part of a prominent landmark on the main road through the village, but they also acted as a noise and visual buffer between homes and the road.

“It’s a mistake we could not overlook and I would urge landowners to contact us if they are in any doubt over the status of a tree before they allow any work to be carried out on them.”

Fines for damaging trees, hedges, shrubs or bushes protected by preservation orders can go up to £20,000 and the landowner is obliged to replace the lost trees at their own cost.

Visit the council website HERE to find out if a tree is subject to a TPO in West Northamptonshire.

The French Partridge is a late 17th-century former coaching inn formerly known as the Gunning Arms and, at an earlier date, Horton Inn Farm.

It became a listed building in 1988 for its special architectural or historic interest, although the hotel is currently closed.