A “tree of national importance” helped to push through plans for a new care home in Sindlesham despite protests from residents who were unhappy about the impact building the new support facility could have.

Lord Harris Court Centre care home will be demolished after councillors voted through plans, meaning the 88-bedroom property will make way for a new 45-bedroom care home and 60 assisted living apartments on Mole Road.

The application was thrown out in June last year as Wokingham Borough Council ruled a replacement development, which was designed with 72 bedrooms instead of 45, would have been “overbearing” and “intrusive”.

These concerns remained for the revised application, with councillors, residents and Winnersh Parish Council objecting to the new plans on similar grounds.

Resident Mike Larsen outlined worries about the size of the property on behalf of neighbours and claimed the new development’s density and scale would be “even greater” than the care home described in the previous application, as this facility would be a new development rather than a replacement building.

Winnersh councillor Paul Fishwick echoed Mr Larsen’s concerns, suggesting balconies on the care home would overlook residential properties, would increase traffic congestion and would increase light pollution.

Planning documents show 17 trees are set to be removed as part of the proposal and council officers were quizzed on whether the plans should go ahead, given some protected trees would be felled to make way for the development.

Councillor Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey said: “There’s no reason to take them down – they could provide screening for local residents.”

But planning committee member Angus Ross highlighted a key line from the council’s tree and landscape officer in the application report, which stated: “I have considered the proposed removal of trees T33 & T34 which is discussed in the Arboricultural Report and conclude I have no objection to this.

“T33 & T34 currently compromise the growth of T35, which is considered to be a high-quality tree of national importance.”

According to external woodlands consultants, T35 is a “truly spectacular specimen” which has “major forked limbs”, a “huge spreading crown” and is expected to have a “very considerable life expectancy”.

The consultant’sC report added: “There is no doubt to my mind that this tree is of regional, if not national importance. As far as I could see it is in good physiological condition and there were no structural defects, but I did not have access to it and it should be surveyed and protected. “This is a significant “find” and is of such visual and cultural merit that it deserves special treatment.”

Before councillors voted to approve the application five votes to two, councillor Ross added: “It does seem a much better proposal than the one that was refused before.”

WBC’s planning committee met to decide on the proposal on Wednesday, May 8.