Fighting to Save Trees in Helmshore
|Author: Christine Smith||Published: 24th April 2012 10:58|
At a time when trees are being planted throughout Rossendale in honour of the Queen's diamond jubilee, residents in Helmshore are working hard in an attempt to secure the future of a much-loved Horse Chestnut Tree.
Memories and a piece of local outstanding
The Horse Chestnut tree in Helmshore
The tree in question is located on the former Airtours Holmefield House site, which has been taken over by developers Taylor Wimpey, who have planning permission to build 74 houses on the site.
This isn't the first time that the site has caused controversy. There was an outcry amongst the local community last year, when the first request for planning permission was submitted to Rossendale Borough Council. Despite the Council originally objecting due to overdevelopment in the village and a shortfall in primary school places, these objections were later withdrawn and the plans granted permission.
Many residents have fond memories of collecting conkers from the tree, which is located at the entrance to the Holmefield House site, and comments about the tree display the strength of feeling that many residents have for the magnificent tree, which is truly beautiful. Taylor Wimpey claim that the tree, which local residents believe has a Tree Preservation Order, is diseased, and last week marked the tree with an ‘X', indicating that it was to be destroyed. When the building team started to chainsaw it, they were stopped by staff from Wavell MOT Station across the road.
As part of the development, a number of trees, some aged between 30 and 50 years old, have been felled, which residents believe were not part of the conditions of the planning permission. One such tree was adorned by yellow blossom, and provided the only visual protection for one particular resident from the sight of the development that is now underway.
'X' marks the spot: Mark on the tree indicating
that it is to be felled. Photo by Jo Bones
Since Thursday, residents have been in touch with the Planning Department at Rossendale Borough Council for advice. They have been informed that Taylor Wimpey carried out an assessment of the tree and found that it is diseased and poses a risk to the community. The tree was struck by lightning last year, but residents believe it to be recovering well from this. They are now seeking further advice from a tree surgeon and speaking to Planning Officers from the Council for reassurance and advice, but feel that time is against them.
Speaking about the fight to save the tree, Helmshore resident Ann Hodgkiss said: "This tree is a part of Helmshore. Rossendale Borough Council has let the residents down in the worst possible way allowing this development after all the outcry, the least they can do is help us to keep this one part of the Holmefield site. Taylor Wimpey can afford to treat and make safe this piece of our history."
We will keep you updated with developments on this story.
Where once there stood trees, now only stumps remain.
Photo by Jo Bones