OUTRAGED residents have hit out at Essex County Council for allowing a developer to cut down an 80-year-old tree.

The lime tree on the corner of St Andrew’s Road and Hall Road, Rochford, was chopped down before workmen started to install a new drive and dropped kerb to a property in Hall Road.

Residents of St Andrew’s Road said they were not warned of the tree being felled or work starting on the new driveway at the property, owned by Southend developer Brendan O’Hare.

The move to chop down the tree and start the work was approved by the county council’s highways department.

However, in December 2012, Rochford Council refused a planning application by Mr O’Hare on the basis felling the tree would “have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance” of the street.

Resident Alison Savage, 46, claimed residents and the district council should have been consulted before permission was given and demanded the county council replants a mature tree.

She said: “What’s amazing to me is these councils aren’t talking to each other – it’s just barmy.

“Common sense would suggest trees are important, especially as it’s a tree-lined road, and someone should have been consulted.

“It’s a very emotive subject on this street – we have photographic evidence to show the tree was there long before there were any houses here and we want a mature tree put back in.”

District councillor Gillian Lucas Gill said there were no preservation orders on the trees, because the council did not think anyone would want to cut them down.

She added: “One of the homeowners wanted to have yet another dropped kerb and, because the county council owned the highway, it approved the tree being taken down without any recourse to Rochford Council, our arboriculturist or anyone else.

“They’ve been there donkeys’ years and we assumed nobody would want to cut these beautiful trees down but, to prevent it happening again, the council will be putting tree preservation orders on the rest of them because, once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “Essex Highways is in the process of drafting a response to residents who have contacted them regarding this request linked to the vehicle crossing and the removal of a tree in the Rochford area.

“It would not be usual practice for Essex Highways to consult residents or district councils about vehicle crossings on local roads.

“However, Essex Highways understands there may have been some local concerns about this matter.”