CIVIC chiefs have issued a protection order on a tree in a Winchester store car park even though the plan that had threatened it has been amended.

The hornbeam stands by the car park at Homebase off Easton Lane in Winnall.

The building's owners, Royal London, had last year planned the chop it as part of a redevelopment of the site.

That sparked a temporary tree protection order (TPO) which is still in place even though Royal London has changed its proposals for a drive-thru which was granted permission last November.

Council tree officer John Bartlett said the tree had important visual amenity value and was "worthy of protection. It is visible as you come off the roundabout to Homebase".

Danny Simmonds, agent for Royal London, objected to the TPO. He told the planning committee: "Under the amended scheme the tree is retained and we have protected the root area. Royal London intend to implement this scheme and accordingly the tree is no longer under threat. The interim TPO forced Royal London to change the scheme to ensure the tree was retained.

"Royal London remain of the view the hornbeam is not of outstanding quality or worthy of a TPO. The interim TPO should be withdrawn.

"The reason we continue to object is partly a matter of principle but also if confirmed it will place a legal charge on the site which we want to avoid."

Mr Bartlett said: "The tree is worthy of a TPO and if it is removed the tree is immediately vulnerable."

The planning committee discussed the threat to an unprotected tree if Royal London did not implement its current scheme.

The committee unanimously approved the TPO.