A PROMINENT tree in which has stood in the centre of Malvern for 80 years is set to be cut down after councillors agreed not to enforce an order to protect it.

The tree, which sits at the crossroads of Church Street, was the subject of a Tree Protection Order designed to prevent it from being cut down.

This is after the owner of the tree, Giles Clarke, asked for permission to have it removed.

This, he said, was because the tree was damaging the water pipes below the street and preventing the business tenants of the site from being given insurance cover.

Despite this, council officer Chris Lewis-Farley said the view of the council was that it was not causing problems.

He said: "One reason given (for the tree's removal) was that it was causing distortion to the pavement, but it can be seen that there is no significant distortion which can be attributed to this tree."

Mr Lewis-Farley said the tree, which is a prominent feature of Church Street, was a positive feature and was contributing to the overall look of the place.

Despite this, councillors from Malvern Hills District Council voted not to extend the TPO further, allowing the tree's owner to cut it down.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Clarke said the pipes below the street had been damaged by roots, leading to increased water bills.

He also said the tree's roots were pushing up the pavement, leading to a safety hazard which could not be covered by insurance.

Mr Clarke's case was supported by Cllrs Cynthia Palmer and Jeremy Owenson, both of whom said the tree should be removed.

Cllr Palmer said: "The roots of the tree are currently pushing the block paving up and damaging the retaining walls.

"The county council has said it obstructs the view to the traffic lights and should be at least cut back.

"This coniferous tree is still not fully grown and is already blocking out light to the nearby properties."

Cllr Owenson agreed, saying: "I think we should just get on with it and cut the tree down."

Despite these concerns, Cllr Paul Bennett told the committee the tree had been there for around 80 years and that if it were to be cut down, the street would be left with "a concrete canyon" in its place.

Eventually Cllr Owenson proposed not enforcing the TPO, with his motion being seconded by Cllr Palmer.

Councillors voted 10 to 7 in favour of this, so the tree can now be cut down.

The decision was made at the Southern Area Planning meeting on November 17.