An application to remove an order protecting three trees in St Martin's Square has been approved - and they are now going to be felled.

An independent tree consultant was appointed by the council’s contractor, Thomas Sinden, to assess the health and viability of the trees as part of the improvement works to St Martin’s Square and St Martin’s Church Gardens.

The trees were protected by Tree Preservation Orders.

St Martin's Square is currently undergoing regeneration as the market is moved from Market Square to St Martin's Square.

An independent arboricultural report reads: “The trees are showing signs of decline, with dieback in the top of the crowns. This is what would be expected with such a limited rooting zone and if the trees were to be retained, they would continue to decline. In my opinion, these trees have a very limited useful life expectancy, therefore my recommendation is to remove the three trees and replace with four new trees.”

Councillor Tony Hedley, Basildon Council’s chairman of the regeneration committee, said: “Felling trees is always avoided where possible but in this case we’ve been advised by an independent tree consultant working for our contractor and by the council’s own arboriculturist.

“The way the roots are laying in a thin layer of sand means that they will not be stable enough to remain after the paving improvements are made. Public safety is our number one concern at all times.

"However, the felling of these trees will result in them being replaced with new significant trees planted in St Martin’s Square.”

Reverend Esther McCafferty, rector of St Martin's Church, said: “Planting new trees is a very good thing.

"We all know how long it takes for a tree to mature, so this will be a real investment in Basildon’s future."

The work to remove the dying trees begins today.