A council has been left with £38,700 costs after stopping two trees being felled.
In summer last year the owners of the Old Rectory in Little Gransden announced that they wanted to cut down the cedar and wellingtonia trees at their £2.25m Grade II listed property.
Experts had found that the trees’ roots were damaging the 16th Century building.
But last September South Cambs District Council decided to grant a tree preservation order after Little Gransden Parish Council and villagers objected to the historic trees being felled.
They argued that felling the trees would have an unacceptable impact on the Conservation Area and councillors on the planning committee agreed with them, going against their planning officers’ recommendations.
This would have meant that the house would have to be underpinned.
But then in July the planning committee reversed its decision, saying that the costs of underpinning the house, for which the council would have to pay, outweighed the trees’ value.
Councillor Robin Page made a claim against the council to the High Court of Justice, saying the council had acted unlawfully in revoking the tree preservation order.
The court dismissed the application for a judicial review but the owners were told not to fell the trees until sufficient time had been given for an appeal. Councillor Page had to pay costs of £2,000 to the council and £1,000 to the owners.
The council had to pay £5,762 legal costs and the owners had to pay £9,568.
Appeal permission was refused and the trees were felled. The owners claimed costs from the council of £43,572 plus the cost of perusing the claim, citing preparation costs for the underpinning and legal costs.
The council settled the case out of court to reduce costs, paying £38,700.
Councillor Ray Manning, council leader, said: “No one welcomes this expense, but it is the best possible settlement for council taxpayers following the original decision by the cross-party planning committee who went against sound recommendations by council officers.
“The settlement is £14,000 less than the likely cost of drawing a line under the case in court and is a direct result of the democratic process as the committee took into account the pleas from local people to retain the trees.”