RESIDENTS in an Emsworth street have been left furious after a housebuilder tore down a tree at the back of their homes to make way for a new development.
McCarthy and Stone has proposed to build a new 25-flat retirement block at the back in Western Avenue, next to Beach Avenue.
People living nearby have complained about the proposed three-storey block, which they say would damage the visible appeal of the area.
Yesterday morning they woke to find tree cutters working for the developer tearing down the red sycamore tree at the back of the proposed site.
Sarah Walker, who has lived in Beach Road for about 20 years, said: ‘I was looking out my back window and I could see a ladder going up, which was unusual because the trees are mature and do not need any work.
‘The sound was horrific, you could hear the splintering coming from the tree.’
Miss Walker went round to the site and told the cutters she thought the trees were protected by a tree preservation order (TPO).
TPOs are made by local councils and protect trees from being cut down or damaged without written consent.
An officer from Havant Borough Council was called, who said a preservation order would be immediately applied, although the tree had already been damaged.
The proposals for the site include building four penthouse apartments, communal gardens and about 28 car parking spaces.
Miss Walker, 43, said the developer had angered residents by cutting the tree, rather than submitting a formal planning application first.
She said the flats would damage the ‘ambience of the area’ and would cause noise pollution.
She added: ‘We have had a few meetings as residents.
‘The council officer came on site really quickly and stopped any further work on the tree.’
The developer held a consultation this month.
Residents have been told the application is due to be submitted in May.
A Havant Borough Council spokeswoman confirmed a TPO is now in place.
She said: ‘An arboricultural officer took immediate action once we were made aware of a tree being felled in Western Avenue.
‘As there are a number of other trees on this site a TPO has now been placed to protect them all.
‘Notification of the TPO will be given to the landowner and adjacent properties and will be displayed on the site.’
A McCarthy and Stone spokeswoman said: ‘The tree concerned is not subject to a tree preservation order or any other form of protection that would prevent its removal, and all activities have been carried out with full consideration and compliance with relevant guidance and regulation.’