Going, going, gone: Eastbourne residents’ horror as 150-year-old tree is cut down

Before. Photo by Graeme Wallis
Before. Photo by Graeme Wallis

Residents have reacted with horror and disbelief after a 150-year-old copper beech tree was cut down for a car port.

Those living at Boyne House protested against the tree’s felling for more than a year, but they lost their battle last week as the large tree in Blackwater Road was diminished to a stump.

During. Photo by Graeme Wallis

During. Photo by Graeme Wallis

The once-protected tree was chopped down after its roots were found to be compromising the car port’s structure.

Neighbour Graeme Wallis said it was a symbol of how society is getting its ‘priorities wrong’.

He said, “Over the last week we have seen and spoken with numerous of our neighbours from various blocks in the immediate vicinity that have the tree in their sight-line.

“The overall feeling is ‘total disbelief’. The word ‘criminal’ has been used. The decision is regarded as total madness.

During. Photo by Graeme Wallis

During. Photo by Graeme Wallis

“It is only a carport/internal garden wall that has been affected – not the actual house, or even the boundary wall with ourselves next door.

“It is nowhere near the house. In fact it would damage our house, next door, long before it damaged Boyne House, and it was still many years away from doing that.

“Nobody really believes that the tree had to be felled at all.

“As a result, the whole situation is becoming a bit of a local cause and is an iconic symbol of how we are seriously getting our priorities wrong in today’s society.”

During. Photo Graeme Wallis

During. Photo Graeme Wallis

Planning permission was gained earlier this year to fell the tree, which until recently has a Tree Preservation Order.

A spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough Council said, “The council acknowledges the wider value of the tree in the area and understands why local people feel strongly about this matter.

“However, following a thorough investigation and assessment of all available options, including receiving expert evidence, it was decided that on safety grounds the tree should be removed.

“The decision also requires a replacement tree to be planted.”

Gone: the stump next to the car port the tree had been affecting. Photo Graeme Wallis

Gone: the stump next to the car port the tree had been affecting. Photo Graeme Wallis

This comes as a change in Government policy puts ancient trees across East Sussex at risk.

For the first time, the level of planning policy protection for ancient and veteran trees could be lower than the protection given to ancient woodland.

The Government’s review of planning rules means only ancient woods would be given greater protection, and special trees would be at risk from development.

Fighting against this, the Woodland Trust currently has 2,845 ancient trees recorded on its Ancient Tree Inventory in London and the South East.

One hundred and one of these are in East Sussex – and 11 of these are outside a designated area.

To find out more, click here.

Graeme Wallis, Clarice Wallis, Vanessa Wake and Patsy Wake had been fighting against the tree being chopped down.

Graeme Wallis, Clarice Wallis, Vanessa Wake and Patsy Wake had been fighting against the tree being chopped down.

And to read more about the beech tree in Blackwater Road, click here.