A council which passed a planning application to put two new homes on a vacant site warned the applicant their decision does not provide the authority to remove trees which are the subject of a boundary dispute.
If landowner Colin Fisher wants to build the two houses, on land off Station Road at Laughton Common, Rotherham, he will have to settle a dispute with neighbours about who owns a row of poplar trees.
Each say they believe the trees are growing on their land and if they remain in place, there is too little space to build the houses Mr Fisher was given permission to build by Rotherham Council’s planning board.
Councillors who make up the panel have no jurisdiction over boundary issues and must make decisions only on planning matters, so they followed the advice of their planning officers and passed the application, but when the decision was announced it was clarified that it did mean the council had granted authority to remove the trees.
The meeting was told by Mr Fisher that all issues surrounding potentially contentious issues, including the trees, bats and light pollution had been addressed and that the development “would have no detrimental impact on neighbouring properties and will turn wasteland into a desirable residential area.”
But neighbour Ben Paxman said he believed the trees were not on Mr Fisher’s land and therefore could not be removed by him.
“We are contesting the ownership of the trees, we believe they are ours but we cannot prove that and they cannot prove they are theirs,” he told the meeting.
Mr Fisher responded: “If the trees fell down and landed on their house, they would be coming to me for the bill.
“No-one has ever questioned it, that is all I can say. They overshadow the properties. I thought removing a couple would help all the properties,” he said.
Coun Alan Atkin said: “It is a civil matter for the two parties to resolve.”