Villagers are locked in a bitter planning row with housing developers as they fight to save a ‘majestic’ 140-year-old Victorian tree from being chopped down to make way for 500 homes.
Residents are campaigning to save the 80ft (30m) cedar tree, valued by surveyors at £165,000, from being felled as part of a new estate being built in Keresley, Warks.
Permission was given to Bellway Homes last year to build 550 homes with more than 100 trees expected to be chopped down as part of the plans.
But locals are furious that the giant cedar – which has a circumference of 160ft (50m) – is among those which will be lost as a result of the proposals.
They say the sprawling tree is home to tawny owls, hedgehogs, birds and other wildlife and also acts as sound barrier to passing traffic along Tamworth Road.
More than 60 residents have now signed a petition which has been submitted to Coventry City Council ahead of the local authority’s final decision on the plans in June.
The campaign is being spearheaded by Gran-of-one Ann Evans, 74, who lives on the road and says the tree could easily live up to a thousand years.
She is also concerned about pollution issues and that the houses being built will begin to encroach onto nearby ancient woodland.
Ann, who has lived on the road for 36 years, said: “It’s such a beautiful, truly majestic tree and we are furious that they are trying to cut it down.
“It’s a very important tree to residents. If it was anywhere else, it would have a plaque on it. It’s absolutely huge and a thing of beauty which should be protected.
“The tree there was part of three plantations of trees. There was the cedar tree, three monkey trees and three Scots pines.
Don’t seem to care
“They were statement trees from the Victorian era, so they have been here a very long time.
“We used to have a historian that used to be on the parish council, he said that land dated back to 1880 and he confirmed they are well over 100 years old.
“We’ve seen tawny owls in there, the hedgehogs regularly hibernate in there during the winter, it’s also full of birds and other wildlife.
“You just can’t replace a tree like that. Surveyors valued it as being category A1 which means it’s in exceptional condition and of exceptional value.
“They even go as far as putting a monetary value on it, and this particular tree is aid to be worth £165,000.
“You can go inside the tree and look up and it’s like being in a forest. It’s always green. Its colour stays all year round. Its glorious and we all love it.
“We are also worried about pollution if this comes down, trees are very important for environmental protection but they just don’t seem to care.”
Bellway Homes have promised to plant more trees to compensate for the losses but must have further details of their plan approved before work can begin on the homes.
Mum-of-one Ann, a retired administrator, added: “The developers have just seemed very disrespectful. They want to fell 120 trees to accommodate 550 houses.
“The whole area is part of a local wildlife belt. There are two woods here classed as ancient woods and they’re building a 20 metre buffer right up to the woods.
“The Woodland Trust recommend a buffer of 100 metres, so we’re obviously concerned about the impact on other parts of our countryside.
“We’re all conscious about the noise and pollution this could bring.
“We’re trying our best but when you’re taking on big businesses like this it’s always difficult to succeed.”
Another local resident dad-of-three Jeremy Anderson, 55, added: “That tree is part of our community, it’s a stunning thing that improves the landscape.
“It would be criminal of them to tear it down.”
Coventry City Council said the authority would not comment.