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Woodberry Down “Happy Man” tree nominated for tree of the year

PUBLISHED: 15:14 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:22 25 August 2020

Around 30 young activists attended a sponsored walk in July to help save the Happy Man Tree. Picture: Oscar Stewart

Around 30 young activists attended a sponsored walk in July to help save the Happy Man Tree. Picture: Oscar Stewart

Oscar Stewart

An ancient Woodberry Down tree has been nominated for England’s Tree of the Year.

The sponsored walk was organised by 10-year-old Jesse Steward. Picture: Oscar StewartThe sponsored walk was organised by 10-year-old Jesse Steward. Picture: Oscar Stewart

Voting is now officially open for the Woodland Trust’s Tree Of The Year award and the London Plane, tree known by locals as The Happy Man tree, is in the running.

On its website, Woodland Trust describes the tree as “a part of the Woodberry Down estate” and its collective history.

It says: “Currently earmarked for felling, the plight of this 150-year-old plane has awakened something in a community that couldn’t bear to see it go.

READ MORE: Hackney neighbours rally to save ‘150-year-old’ tree from the axe

“The dressing of the tree, and the signs behind it, are testament to the strength of feeling among the local campaigning community.

“As an urban tree, it makes an important contribution to combatting air pollution and making grey city streets green.”

Hackney Council and developer Berkeley Homes’ plans to remove the beloved landmark, as part of a large development, have been met with protests from the community who wish to save it.

Supporters even occupied the tree until they were removed when the council was granted an injunction to do so in June.

READ MORE: ‘They may cut the tree down, but they are losing the argument,’ says Happy Man Tree Supporter after council granted injunction

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Local activists also created a petition which has reached almost 25,000 signatures and started a crowdfunder to raise funds for legal action to save the tree.

On July 17, a group of young activists went on a sponsored walk around Woodberry Down Estate. The event was organised by 10 year old Jesse Stewart who also designed t-shirts in support of the tree on Woodberry Grove.

READ MORE: Happy Man Tree Supporters deliver petition and papier-mache axe to Hackney Mayor

About 30 children took part in the walk which raised nearly £200 towards the tree’s legal funds.

Concerned about the trees future, Jesse said: “Every tree counts because of climate change.”

Hackney Council and Berkeley Homes have made a joint commitment that the tree will not be damaged or removed until the Woodberry Down regeneration plans are reconsidered as part of updated planning policy.

READ MORE: Removal of Woodberry Down’s Happy Man Tree to be delayed and “potentially” reconsidered

The council said: “After months of workshops and meetings, it became clear that there was not a way to avoid removing the tree without causing a 15-month delay to the construction of affordable housing, and a redesign of the project.

As part of the Woodberry Down redevelopment, 175 new trees are to be planted as well as the equivalent of 29 tennis courts of new open spaces, including a new public park.

The plans also propose 4,135sqm of biodiverse green and brown roofs, including vegetation and planting, as well as an energy centre to provide low-carbon heat for the entire estate and 1,060 new cycle parking spaces.

To vote for the Happy Man Tree click here.


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