PLANS to fell a belt of protected trees lining a New Forest road have been approved – despite more than 60 objections to the scheme.
The trees, many of which are up to 100 years old, are next to a site earmarked for development in the recently-approved New Forest District Council Local Plan.
Up to 100 homes will be built beside Oakhaven Hospice in Lower Pennington Lane, Pennington, if any proposals to redevelop the site are submitted and approved.
Pennington councillor Andrew Gossage objected to the proposed felling of the 19 trees, claiming they were being axed to make way for a new access.
Fellow councillor Jacqui England described the application to remove the trees as “excessive and unnecessary”.
The council received 64 other objections, including two from the Lymington Society and the Pennington and Lymington Lanes Society (PALLS).
But council officers said the trees were potentially dangerous and should be taken down, despite being covered by a Woodland Tree Preservation Order.
Members of the planning committee approved proposals to fell ten Monterey pines and five Monterey cypress trees, plus an oak, elm and horse chestnut.
A report to councillors said the trees were “highly prominent” in Lower Pennington Lane and their removal would have a “significant impact” on the area.
It added: “There us a high level of objection to this proposal and two local groups have provided written statements from different independent arboriculturalists.”
But the report said most of the trees had “significant defects” and others were likely to fail if their companion trees were removed.
“The large Monterey pine trees are reaching the end of their life expectancy,” it said.
“The condition of these trees has deteriorated to such an extent that pruning them will not significantly extend the time they can be safely retained.”
The report said the Monterey cypress trees were showing signs of canker and had also suffered storm damage in the past.
It added: “The most reasonable course of action is to condition high quality replacement planting scheme and ensure these new trees are successfully established.
“Any new tree planted in this area will be automatically protected as this land in covered by a Woodland Tree Preservation Order.”