Christchurch's Druitt Gardens trees saved from the axe

Druitt Gardens The gardens are home to protected bats and many birds, including woodpeckers, tree creepers, redwings and nuthatches

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Trees in a garden of rest which could have been felled to make way for housing have been saved by one vote.

Developers Renaissance Retirement were granted permission in April to build retirement flats next to Druitt Gardens in Christchurch, Dorset.

But the firm since decided seven 15m (50ft) sycamores, over the boundary and inside the gardens, had to go.

But planning committee councillors voted six to five to save them and instead gave them protection orders.

Peter Fenning, secretary of the Christchurch Conservation Trust, said: "It's a big victory for all of us. We had 450 objections from local people.

'We listened'

"The developers are going to have to go back and think again."

Mr Fenning said the gardens, which were bequeathed to the town more than 60 years ago, were a vital "green lung".

Construction had been due to commence imminently and completed by October.

BBC News is awaiting a comment from Renaissance Retirement on how the scheme will progress.

Conservative ward councillor Peter Hall said he believed the company was still able to go ahead with the development without the need to fell the trees.

He added: "I'm delighted with the outcome, I think those trees provide a notable presence and have an important amenity value.

"We're working on the premise of a Big Society so we listened to the people."

Permission was given at the meeting to trim an overhang from an oak tree, while the seven sycamores, two bay trees and one other oak were given protected status.

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