LANDMARK trees planted by the Americans during the Second World War have been cut down to make way for a new housing development on the site of an old Worcester hospital.

The eight poplars have been a feature of the landscape at the former hospital site in Newtown Road, Ronkswood, for 70 years.

They had been protected by a tree preservation order because of their history.

But people living nearby watched earlier this week as workmen clearing access to a new Barratt Homes development chopped them down.

John Baddeley, who helped obtain the preservation order in the 1990s, said he was sad to see them disappear.

“They have been here for so long,” he said. “The American government set up the hospital in the Second World War and also paid for some of the roads on the estate.

“I think it’s a shame they couldn’t have been allowed to stay. I don’t think there was anything wrong with them.”

Resident Tony Burton said it had always been thought locally that the poplars had been planted by the Canadian and American governments when the hospital was built on part of the former Tolladine golf course for temporary military use.

The site was mainly occupied by huts and many of the casualties treated were US and Canadian servicemen.

It was taken over for civilians after the war and became part of the Worcester Royal Infirmary.

“We saw the work going on and they were getting very close to the trees we thought had been protected,” Mr Burton said.  “Soon afterwards, most of them had gone and it looks empty now.”

Barratt Homes plans to put 181 homes on the site in a development called Perry Wood Oaks.

Planning permission was given in May and a response from the council to the application points out there were some protected trees in the way of access.

But a spokesman for the council said a tree expert had carried out detailed examinations and had decided the trees were a danger to public safety.

Poplars are relatively short-lived trees and they had come to the end of their lives, he said.

The expert had reported they were decaying inside and the fact that they were a danger to safety meant the preservation orders would be overridden.

“After thorough consultation with Worcester City Council it was agreed that 54 trees had to be removed due to poor health and to facilitate the new development,” said Andy Cohu, technical director for Barratt West Midlands.

“As a positive response, for each tree we remove, we will be planting three new trees, which means more than 160 new trees will be planted.”