Talks underway to save century-old oak tree from developer's chainsaw - The Rugby Observer

Talks underway to save century-old oak tree from developer's chainsaw

Rugby Editorial 3rd Jan, 2020 Updated: 3rd Jan, 2020   0

A CENTURY-old oak tree in Ashlawn Road could yet be saved from the chainsaw after it was earmarked for removal by developers.

Planning officers at Rugby Borough Council (RBC) have started talks with developer David Wilson Homes and Warwickshire County Council in a bid to save the tree.

The council’s planning committee had approved the removal of the tree last month.

But after members of the committee raised concerns, planning officers approached the housing developer and county council highways chiefs to try and secure the oak’s future.

RBC’s environment and public realm spokesman Coun Howard Roberts said both David Wilson Homes and the county council had committed to explore all options to save the tree.

He said: “A number of planning committee members expressed concerns about the loss of this mature oak, concerns which I know have been shared by a number of residents.

“Initial talks have shown a genuine desire by all parties to try and find a solution to the problem, and detailed discussions now look set to take place.”

David Wilson Homes secured outline planning permission on appeal in July 2017 for a 860 home development in Ashlawn Road.

A ‘reserved matters’ planning application for the development’s proposed infrastructure included the removal of the oak tree in order to create a footpath and cycleway.

Although the footpath and cycleway remain part of the approved plans, along with the removal of the tree, the council’s leader said he was heartened by the positive response to the request to review the plans and save the tree.

Coun Sebastian Lowe said: “Rugby Borough Council has long-prided itself on being a truly ‘green’ local authority and has taken a lead on tree-planting, working with the Woodland Trust to create Diamond Wood in the Rainsbrook Valley in 2013 and planting 25,000 trees across the borough two years ago.

“While a solution to saving the oak tree in Ashlawn Road remains some way off, all parties have expressed a determination to try and find a solution, and we look forward to further discussions.”

Members of the Save Our Oak Tree (SOOT) group have held protests at the tree, leaving a ‘save me’ banner tied to the oak.

And resident Helen Essex has launched a petition to David Wilson Homes and Warwickshire County Council to save the tree.

She said: “This ancient oak will have captured over two tonnes of carbon over its lifetime and is favoured by many different species – estimates are it could be home to 300 to 1,000 species.

“We urge you to sign the petition to help keep the pressure on the developers and local authorities, to ensure they do save the oak tree and do better at mitigating any further harm to wildlife, trees and hedgerows across the site.”

Last May, the developers were told to stop work at the site after they breached conditions of planning permission by ripping up more hedgerow than allowed.

They said they would plant “extensive new hedgerows” to “mitigate for the hedge losses during construction”.

Visit to sign the petition.

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