Swinley Forest residents have lost their bid to remove an order that has restricted them from pruning two trees in their neighbourhood.

Residents of Sandford Down and Fordwells Drive wanted Bracknell Forest Council to remove a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) applied to two oak trees on the two neighbouring streets.

One tree is in the front garden of 6 Sandford Down, and the other is in the rear garden of 13 Sandford Down, with two stems in 34 Fordwells Drive.

Residents complained that the oaks were blocking sunlight, and dropping leaves and acorns into their gardens and street. The TPO has meant they have sometimes struggled to get permission from the council to cut them back.

But council officer Stephen Chown argued that residents’ quality of life had to be balanced against the rights of the trees.

He said TPO guidance recognised that “trees have a right to do the things that come naturally to them. They have the right to grow, they have the right to have leaves that will fall.”

Bracknell Forest Council’s planning committee debated whether to keep the TPO on Thursday, August 17. Mr Chown said the council had applied to reconfirm the TPO so that residents had the chance to object, and so councillors could vote on it.

Other complaints included concerns that the trees could cause subsidence and damage property.

Mr Chown acknowledged “there is a strong local feeling about the trees”, and said officers had taken these into account.

He took councillors through a detailed explanation of how officers score trees based on features such as age and height against potential damage to residents’ quality of life when deciding whether or not to apply a TPO.

He added: “There is a very clear fear of property damage arising from the trees, and there is a strong expression of the negative impact that the trees are having on people’s quality of life.”

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Councillor Patrick Smith – who represents Swinley Forest – asked several challenging questions, including about how officers judged quality of life and the benefits of the trees.

Mr Chown admitted these could come down to “individual view.”

He said: “When you look at the aspects of shade for instance, what one individual will consider to be a benefit of a tree, in that it casts shade, another individual may consider to be a detriment of a tree in that it denies them sunlight.”

Councillor Smith stressed that he himself is “unequivocally pro-tree.” He said: “I have an enormous oak over my back garden. It’s a nightmare dropping all its acorns over my garden but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Councillors voted in favour of the TPO, with six in favour and three, including councillor Smith, abstaining.