Axminster landmark tree “past sell-by date”

But vets say mature horse chestnut won’t come down unless absolutely necessary

VETS at Axminster say residents who claim they want to fell a landmark tree just because is stands in the way of progress are barking up the wrong one.

Coombefield Veterinary Hospital has upset some neighbours by applying to remove a preservation order on a mature horse chestnut, which is growing close to where its new extension is being built.

Nearby residents say the tree dominates the skyline, at the back of the Coombe Lane car park, and is a home to birds an insects.

“It is a thing of beauty in an increasingly drab car park, already spoiled by recycling bins and disused toilets,” said one. “Unless its unsafe it should remain.”

But the veterinary hospital says, while it has asked East Devon District Council for permission to axe the tree, it will only do so if it becomes absolutely necessary.

In a statement to The Herald it said: “We have put in for permission to cut it down as this is the recommendation of an arboriculture specialist with concurrence from the council’s tree protection officer.

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“The tree is already stressed and the extension will possibly shorten its life to less than five years.

“We do not want to cut the tree down as it enhances our building and the council car park and provides our building with shade in summer, reducing the amount of mechanical cooling required to regulate the temperature for patients and staff.

“Our plan is to hold onto the consent – should it be granted – and see how the tree survives before making a decision to cut it down. If it comes down it will be replaced by a suitable semi-mature tree of a type advised by the council tree protection officer.”

District councillor Douglas Hull said he appreciated the vets’ dilemma.

He said: “I would be sorry to see it go but you have to realise that everything has its sell by date. Once trees start to rot you need to get them down before they get too bad and plan for a replacement in plenty of time.”