Neighbours of a house formally earmarked for a major rebuild are furious after a developer cut down a row of trees.

Numerous trees have been chopped down at the bottom of the garden of 1 Buttercross Lane in Epping.

The arboreal work has significantly detracted from the conservation area, those living down the road claim, as well as removing a natural shield to the high street.

Epping Forest Guardian:

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ""I find it so disappointing. The developer has been given permission to fell a tree and virtually every other bit of greenery.

"The back and front garden are totally devastated."

Their concern stretches beyond aesthetics however.

Some Buttercross Road residents believe the felling is the first step towards reviving plans to knock down Number 1 and building apartments in its place.

A first set of proposals to build nine apartments in its place were thrown out by Epping Forest District Council after 240 people signed a petition.

Epping Forest Guardian:

The neighbour continued: "The moment we heard the sound of the chainsaw we ran outside.

"Now the developer has put in a second application and has gone to appeal.

"With the trees gone if they (the council) send someone down to look at the property they will think 'what's the fuss?'"

If the developer gets their way six apartments would stand alongside a semi-detached property on the site.

A spokesperson for the district council said: "This site is in a Conservation Area and as such all the trees were afforded legal protection.

"The owner submitted a notification to the Council to fell the trees as per requirements of the legislation.

"On receipt of such a notification the council can either allow the work or make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

"On an assessment of the trees none were considered appropriate for a TPO. Therefore, we raised no objections to the work.”