A significant blow has been dealt against a developer who wanted to cut down trees to make way for new homes. 

In a victory for locals, Breckland Council has ordered that 10 trees on Grove Road in Banham, a village between Thetford and Lond Stratton, must be protected. 

Removing the trees had been included in a separate plan to build six homes on the site.

The developer is currently fighting to have a 2021 rejection of the housing scheme overturned, having appealed to the government’s Planning Inspectorate.  

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Breckland's refusal was unrelated to the trees on the site but instead because councillors said it conflicted with planning policy. 

While the appeal process has been underway the authority issued a tree preservation order (TPO) protecting the plants, throwing another spanner in the works for the developer.

The TPO was first made in August last year, but the developer asked for councillors to reconsider. 

At a planning meeting on Tuesday, a neighbour, who said he spoke on behalf of the community, argued the TPO needed to stay in place “to protect the beautiful, mature trees" which help support a variety of local wildlife, including buzzards. 

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He said: “We feel it would be a travesty to lose these trees prematurely, as planning permission for the area has been rejected and now waiting on a decision [on the appeal].” 

But an agent speaking on behalf of the developer argued the trees are "not of high value” and the council had not objected to them being removed during the previous planning application, with the TPO having been served after the appeal process had started. 

Councillors unanimously voted to keep the TPO in place. 

A decision on the appeal is expected to be made in the coming months but an exact date has not been set.