Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee turned down a request to remove an Austrian pine tree in Salvington on Wednesday (19 January).
The applicant, a Chatsworth Close resident, said the tree is a ‘health and safety hazard’ which drops needles and sap ‘everywhere’.
Planning officers at the council said these issues ‘did not justify the tree’s removal’ when weighed against its contribution to public amenity.
The tree is subject to a preservation order, a TPO, which was put in place when Chatsworth Close was developed.
The applicant claimed that sap and needles from the tree rendered a portion of their garden unusable ‘at some times of the year’.
“Why should we be restricted to what areas we can use within our own home?” they asked.
“I have to say that this is a tree that we’re talking about and it really is taking priority over people’s wellbeing,” the applicant’s wife added.
A neighbour called the tree a ‘health and safety hazard’ saying that a falling cone had cut their granddaughter.
The High Salvington Residents’ Association objected to felling the tree.
A spokesperson said: “I live in an area with quite a lot of mature trees, some of them pines.
“We do get needle drop, we do get cone drop. Are they a nuisance to us? Not noticeably.
“The wildlife they encourage in private gardens and other public areas stop the landscape becoming a suburban wasteland.”
In response, the neighbour said: “I’ve seen comments about wildlife and a fictitious owl – the only wildlife in the tree are magpies and pigeons.”
The man also said he had been ‘verbally abused’ by members of the public since the application was submitted.
Dan Coxhill (Con, Durrington) sympathised with the applicant, saying: “I imagine if I was in this particular circumstance, it would be an incredibly frustrating situation to be in.”
“It is a very difficult decision for us to make, weighing up personal and public,” he added.
Helen Silman (Lab, Heene), who asked for the application to be brought before the committee, said: “This does reveal a conflict between public and private, personal and the wider community.
“It’s well known, on the committee at least, that I am a passionate supporter of the presence of trees and the more the better.
“I feel torn very surprisingly but, in this case, the balance should be in favour of the public amenity.”
Jim Deen (Lab, Central) said the tree – and others like it – was ‘worth protecting’.