Neighbours heartbroken over plans to fell cedar tree

The cedar tree, in Cranmore Court on Avenue Road

The cedar tree, in Cranmore Court on Avenue Road, is home to various forms of wildlife, and is estimated to be about 150 years old. - Credit: Gemma Brown

A cedar tree which has stood watching over St Albans for more than a century is being threatened with the chop.

The tree, in Cranmore Court on Avenue Road, is home to various forms of wildlife, and is estimated to be about 150 years old.

It is facing the axe despite having a Tree Preservation Order and being located in the city's Conservation Area after the council agreed its removal.

The reason cited for the application, which was submitted in July last year, was “moderate structural damage" to the flats which the applicant - an insurer - determined should be resolved by removal of said tree.

Resident Gemma Brown said she is saddened by the council's response to the tree and the devastating impact it will have on her local natural habitat.

She said: "It feels very precious to me – something that we should be taking great care to look after.

"For about 150 years this tree has supported life and provided homes. At this time of year I hear the woodpeckers daily as they carve out theirs for families-to-be.

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"It oxygenates our air and sequesters carbon like no man-made solution can, and, if perfect utility isn’t enough, it is a thing of beauty.

"In the breeze we watch its many branches sway gently, gifting us moments of calm, peace and contemplation through busy days.

"As storms lash, its dance is a drama to behold. It soars upwards, drawing resting eyes to blue sky, moving clouds, sunsets and stars. It is the daily staging for each dawn chorus and the liveliest metropolis for the business of nature. It does, exactly, what it is meant to do.  And we should let it."

She said she has written to council leader Cllr Chris White and contacted the freeholder of the property pointing out that the removal of the tree is a technically flawed response which will result in even more damage.

Tracy Harvey, head of planning for St Albans district council said: “An application was received last year asking for permission to fell a protected cedar tree.

“This was based on evidence that the tree’s roots were causing subsidence at a block of flats.

“A number of objections were made during the consultation period and the applicant agreed to investigate these concerns.

“The applicant continued their expert examinations of the site and sent a detailed response to us.

“While not disputing that the tree was a local amenity, the applicant provided further technical evidence that it was the cause of damage to the building.

“In view of this, we gave permission for the tree to be felled on the condition that it was replaced with a more suitable tree for the location.”