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

PUBLISHED: 12:03 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:34 13 May 2020

The tree, which residents believe is more than 150 years old. PIcture: Google Maps

The tree, which residents believe is more than 150 years old. PIcture: Google Maps

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Thousands of people are hoping to save an ancient tree from being felled as part of development work.

An artist's impression of the new homes on the Woodberry Down Estate. Picture: Hackney CouncilAn artist's impression of the new homes on the Woodberry Down Estate. Picture: Hackney Council

Berkeley Homes has been given permission by Hackney Council to cut down a plane tree near The Happy Man pub, on the Woodberry Down Estate near Finsbury Park, as part of a large development.

People living near the tree, which they believe is more than 150 years old, have started a petition asking for it to be saved - attracting more than 5,000 signatures.

The Woodberry Down Estate represents one of Europe’s biggest single-site regeneration projects, according to Hackney Council, and it will see the site redeveloped for more than 5,500 new homes, community facilities and public spaces.

A resident, Sylwia Komisarek El-Mahmoud, told the Gazette: “The main thing is the trees are absorbing pollution which we are trying to reduce as a city and I feel it is not right to cut any trees down.”

Geoff Bell, vice-chair of the Woodberry Down Community Organisation, found what he believes is the tree on a survey from 1870.

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He said: “There has never been a petition concerning Woodberry Down the like of which we now see.

“This reflects a great wave of public support for the tree. Public opinion is overwhelming on the side of the tree. It would be elitist, even contemptuous of our community, to ignore the petition.”

Hackney mayor Philip Glanville stressed the development will create hundreds of “genuinely affordable” homes and 175 new trees: “This phase of Woodberry Down has an increase in new social housing, but building new housing isn’t easy, and there will always be difficult decisions.

“Removing a much-loved tree like this is always a last resort, and we worked extensively with local residents and partners to investigate all other options and substantially improved green mitigations.”

A spokesperson from Berkeley Homes said the proposals are consistent with Hackney Council’s original and revised masterplans.

“In compensation for the loss of the tree we will also be planting 175 new replacement trees within two acres of public open space, increasing biodiversity in the area by over 150 per cent, and paying £175,000 to the council for additional trees in Woodberry Down.”

View the petition at www.change.org/p/hackney-council-save-our-happy-man-tree-hackney-ancient-plane-tree-to-be-cut-down-by-berkeley-homes


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