CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a chestnut tree will protest today in Cowley as their online petition gains more than 1,000 signatures.

The distinctive Between Towns Road tree is due to be cut down as part of work to create 38 flats on the former Murco garage site, with a report stating it was in ‘poor structural condition’.

But residents, as well as city councillor David Henwood, maintain the tree has important links to the community and can be saved.

Mr Henwood said it was ‘imperative’ to make Oxford City Council rethink the felling of the tree, which is believed to be 100 years old and planted when there was a bakery on the land.

An online petition calling for a Tree Protection Order to be put in place to preserve the tree has now been signed by 1,100 people.

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A spokesperson for the city council, which owns the site, said the tree had already been investigated for protection and found unsuitable, because the damage to it meant large branches were at risk of breaking and falling.


They added: “Our expert arboriculturalist inspected the tree in May 2015 – long before the redevelopment of the site was proposed – with a view to protecting it with a Tree Preservation Order, but concluded this was not appropriate because of the tree’s poor structural condition and short life expectancy.

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“If the horse chestnut was in a stronger condition and had a long life expectancy, we would have designed the new housing development – which features new 38 homes, including new social housing – around the tree.”

An arboricultural report, looking at all trees on the site and carried out as part of the initial planning application, said the chestnut ‘exhibits clear signs of extensive internal decay’ and had most likely been ‘historically heavily pruned’ as a means of reducing its chance of ‘significant structural failure and partial collapse’.

Protesters will meet in front of the tree on Between Towns Road from 10am.

Sign the petition here.