A PROMINENT tree in Malvern could be set for the chop as councillors voted to delay a decision on a tree protection order.

Members of Malvern Hills District Council’s Southern Area Planning Committee discussed an application to put a Tree Preservation Order in place at Springfield Lodge, in Graham Road, on Wednesday.

The order is to protect a conifer in the grounds of the house, which can be seen from streets across the town including Como Road, Edith Walk, Graham Road, and surrounding properties.

The tree had been subject to a provisional order to prevent it being felled after a conservation area notification for the removal of one tree was sent in earlier this year.

A statement signed by five nearby residents said the tree's height and the impact of its roots on the sewers meant it could be unsafe in the future.

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Because of these concerns, councillors agreed not to make a decision at the meeting, and would instead carry out site visits to judge for themselves.

Cllr Andrea Morgan supported the calls for a deferment, saying: "I would be afraid to live near a tree that size." Fellow councillor Mick Davies said the drains should be considered before any decision is made, and supported the call for site visits.

The council report states: “The tree is a good example of the species. Healthy, well-established, well balanced, and structurally sound.

"The tree is of value in terms of public amenity and is considered to make a positive contribution to the Great Malvern conservation area and the Great Malvern treescape.

"The establishment of new trees within the urban environment is fraught with difficulty. It is important that the council seeks to protect those trees already planted and prospering."

The report goes on to say that no evidence has been supplied which demonstrates the tree is having a negative effect on nearby walls, surfaces, drains or buildings.

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It also states there is nothing to suggest the tree is in any way unstable or at risk of falling down.

Another section of the report advises the council to take into account the difficulties associated with cutting down and replacing established trees.

It says: “It is important to remember how difficult it is for trees to become successfully established in the urban environment, particularly with increasing quantities of hard standing to accommodate.

“The construction of Springfield House fifteen years ago for instance, led to the loss of a significant amount of the garden associated with Springfield Lodge and the laying of hard surfacing to accommodate car parking.

“Bearing this in mind, it is important that the council seeks to protect those trees already planted and prospering, as there is no guarantee that replacements or newly planted trees would fare as well.”

The report paraphrases responses from nearby residents, saying: “A beautiful old Malvern stone wall runs the length of Hillstone Court and continues through the grounds of the White House to Como Road.

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"The wall is also a boundary wall for the properties above. The root structure of the tree in question has the potential to damage this lovely old wall with disastrous consequences.”

In response to this, the council says there is “very little likelihood” the tree would affect nearby structures due to its distance from the wall and limited size of its roots.

It said: “This is an established tree in a long-established relationship with the neighbouring house (Springfield House). The tree has been large for some time.

"If the tree were going to cause damage to the house through subsidence, it would be anticipated that it would already have occurred. No such damage has been reported.”