Watton couple’s dismay as mature tree has to be cut down

Two trees on a property in Norwich Road, Watton, which were protected by Tree Preservation Orders (T

Two trees on a property in Norwich Road, Watton, which were protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). - Credit: Archant

A Watton couple who fought to remove protective orders on two trees in their front garden to make it easier to look after them have spoken of their anguish after having to cut one of them down.

Watton homeowners had to cut down a formerly protected mature tree in their garden because it was ro

Watton homeowners had to cut down a formerly protected mature tree in their garden because it was rotten. - Credit: Archant

The oak and horse chestnut trees on Mr and Mrs Thorn's property were subject to Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), requiring any maintenance work to the trees to be approved by Breckland Council.

The couple applied to have the orders removed to make maintaining the mature trees easier, but were devastated to discover soon after that the horse chestnut was completely rotten.

Mr Thorn said: 'We were so upset about having to take it down. We loved the trees, there are one reason we wanted to buy the house.

'But we got a tree surgeon round to look at them and he said it was rotten.'

Mr and Mrs Thorn spoke to Breckland Council's tree and countryside officer, Hugh Coggles, before making the difficult decision to have the tree cut down.

'It was all mushy inside, it was completely unstable,' said Mrs Thorn. 'I was undecided right up to the last minute about whether to cut it down.

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'If it was down to a personal choice, we never would have cut it down. We were incredibly upset.

'We didn't want the tree to come down and we've apologised to all the neighbours.'

The couple said it was a fear for public safety which prompted their decision.

'It was so rotten. If it had fallen into the road and hurt someone, it would have been on our conscience,' said Mr Thorn.

The couple said it was a similar concern which prompted them to have the remaining oak tree lopped, as some of its branches were 'overhanging the road'.

TPOs are used to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands 'in the interests of amenity'.

The order prevents the lopping, uprooting, cutting down, and wilful damage or destruction of a tree without local authority permission.

After the recent development of Forman Close, off Norwich Road, trees in the area were surveyed for the application of TPOs.

Keith Gilbert, Breckland councillor for Watton, said: 'If I'd known there was an appeal being lodged, I would have spoken strongly against the removal of the TPO. There is a spindly stick where there used to be two lovely mature trees.'