‘Britain’s tallest magnolia tree’ cut down because of fears it would fall

<span>The tree in Poole in March 2021 and the scene after it was felled.</span><span>Photograph: BNPS</span>
The tree in Poole in March 2021 and the scene after it was felled.Photograph: BNPS

A magnolia tree believed to be Britain’s tallest has been felled after it was found to be in decay.

It was feared the 18-metre (60ft) tree, which attracted visitors to the area when it bloomed, would fall and damage the house in Poole, Dorset in whose garden it stood – or neighbouring properties.

“It is a shame. We’ve only been here a few years but we thought it was a lovely tree and were very disappointed when it went,” said a neighbour, Steve Trew.

“I understand why it became a hazard. Sadly, I think the council did the right thing approving the felling. It’s never serious until something happens.”

The tree was planted in the back garden of a home in the Lilliput suburb of Poole more than 50 years ago by a former owner. Every spring, people flocked to the area to see its pink flowers.

There is a gap now where the tree once stood, after the local council approved an application to chop it down. The owners of the detached house commissioned a tree surgeon to inspect it, who discovered its state of decay. A local council officer agreed it should come down, saying it could fall on to any one of three properties if it was blown down in its weakened state.

Graham Whitehall, of the Dorset Lake community group, said: “It’s a difficult one. I’m a big tree lover but I think this was the right tree in the wrong place.

“We had heard rumblings about the fact it was no longer there and then we got confirmation that the owners got permission to fell it. It’s a Marmite moment: you will have some people saying it’s the owner’s tree they can do what they want, and others will say it’s a public amenity and should be protected.

“It was magnificent. But, at the end of the day, the person who owns that property is responsible for that tree and if they feel it is a danger and have done everything in the correct way, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

The owner who planted the tree died in the 1980s. At the time, a neighbour was so worried the new owner of the property might want to get rid of the magnolia they successfully applied to have a tree preservation order put on it.

The council previously said the magnolia “contributes significant visual amenity” to the area and is a “fine example of an unusual tree therefore it has rarity value”.

But not everyone was a fan. Council records showed some neighbours had previously complained the tree had grown too big for the plot and made a lot of mess – with the fallen petals said to fill five wheelie bins a year.