A young family whose home was being damaged by three trees in their garden have said their 'living nightmare' has ended after the council backed out of a row to stop the trees being felled.

Sean Callaghan and Adele Hunter bought their house in Withington last year after being told by the local authority that they could have the mature trees in their garden taken down.

Surveyors had found that the trees were absorbing moisture in the soil, causing subsidence and visible cracks on the exterior walls, as well as blocking the drains with their roots.

However when the couple booked a tree surgeon to chop down the 13-metre high trees at their property on the corner of Parsonage Road and Shireoak Road, they were told that a tree protection order (TPO) application had been made to Manchester council.

Planning officers said the trees - two Copper Beech and one Lime - were of ‘high amenity value’ despite 45 residents signing a petition in support of the homeowners. Another 10 people wanted the trees to be protected.

Mr Callaghan and Ms Hunter felt that they had been ‘set up to fail’ and were forced to spend £3,000 on another surveyors’ report to support their case against the TPO.

The extra evidence forced a u-turn from council officers who asked the planning committee on Thursday to refuse the protection order - having previously supported one being made.

The family started a petition to get support from neighbours

The report also provided extra clarity around the cause of the damage to the house, and said that it was ‘highly likely’ to be the result of subsidence related to the trees.

If the trees were not removed the house would need to be underpinned, a process which could have cost Mr Callaghan and Ms Hunter £40,000, according to the couple.

Council officers believed the findings were ‘not completely conclusive’ but admitted that they had no expert evidence to contradict the conclusions of the qualified structural engineer.

An officers’ report said: “There is no doubt that the three trees in this case are very fine specimens and have a high amenity value, making them worthy of a TPO.

“It is very regrettable that [the director of planning’s] recommendation is being revised to ask the committee not to confirm the TPO.”

Manchester council’s planning committee had been asked by officers to approve the TPO on February 18 but deferred making a decision until they had received more information.

The family say cracks caused by subsidence have begun to appear around door and window frames

Several councillors expressed unease about placing extra financial pressures on the homeowners, while others raised concerns about the potential loss of the mature trees.

But the majority of the committee voted to approve revised recommendations which were welcomed by a ‘grateful’ Mr Callaghan at the meeting.

The father-of-two, who is planning to plant trees in nearby Ladybarn Park to compensate for the ones that will be felled, said: “Given the circumstances we don't think it’s morally correct to confirm the TPO as it is effectively forcing us to either try to sell the house or continue living with subsidence.

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“In our opinion not all trees warrant protection just because they’re mature, and there are other potential issues such as checking whether there is any subsidence.

“A number of local residents feel that putting TPOs on trees in private property is essentially unacceptable.

“The fact that someone can go round to a property, decide a tree has amenity value, contact the council and for the council to agree without the property owner being consulted, is something that needs looking at in the future.”

“What we want is very reasonable, we just want to secure our property and move forward with our lives after nine months of a living nightmare.”