IT’S a teenage rite of passage to build a treehouse.

But unfortunately for Dougie Haynes, Joe East, Buzz Burrell, Harry Court, Alden Conley and Ollie Cavey they are set to see their award-winning creation felled after it soared to a skyscraping 85ft off the ground.

Their home away from home in a lime tree in Lower Heyford, near Bicester, has its own front door, windows, viewing platform, and there’s a spiral staircase up to a second level.

Up to 25 people have been involved in its construction, which took an estimated 1,000 man hours, but now the farmer who owns the land, Tim Taylor, says it has to come down because of safety fears.

In fact, it is so well built that the tree will have to be felled.

Student Mr Haynes, 19, from Freehold Street, Lower Heyford, said he made a start three years ago but the project gathered pace last summer.

He said: “In about October we started building the top half and it coincided with the leaves falling off – that’s when villagers started to notice it.”

They used discarded wood and salvaged items from skips to put the structure together with a hammer and nails.

Mr Haynes, who works at Bicester Village outlet shopping centre and also works with a carpenter, said: “I would say you have to be pretty reckless to ever fall or hurt yourself.

“We are always very careful with new people.

“The worst injury I ever had there was I stood on a nail – that was when I was building it. I would not say it’s dangerous at all.”

The Oxford Times:

Inside the house

Effectively the youngsters have done such a good building job, it’s too dangerous to take the treehouse apart so the entire tree will be cut down in a matter of weeks.

Mr Haynes, who hopes to go to university to study architecture, said: “At the end of the day I will accept it, but I will be pretty gutted about it as I put so much time into it.

The Oxford Times:

The extensive view from the tree house

“This summer could have been pretty awesome.”

Mr Taylor, of Rectory Farm, Lower Heyford, said: “I didn’t know until it had been built.

“They would have been alright if they had stayed there (40ft) but it’s 80ft up. They went up above the canopy.

“Once I knew that, and people got on to me, I mentioned it to my insurance people and I dare not let it stay there. It’s just too ridiculous. You can see it from everywhere.

“It’s very unfortunate. If I could see a way to leave it there I would have done.

“But if someone falls and breaks something it will be my problem.”

CONTEST-TOPPER

LAST October the friends  won an award from Blue Forest’s Treehouse Competition after entering via Facebook. Factors the judges praised included:

  • It is ludicrously high up in the tree.
  • It reminds us of those halcyon days we all spent playing in a treehouse when we were younger.
  • You get a strong feeling of the personality of everyone that created and continues to enjoy this tree house.
  • It feels homely...we think someone still enjoys sitting in the branches of this tree.