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Petition to save historic tree in Repton Avenue, Ashford near Grade II-listed manor from felling

A historic tree which has stood next to Repton Manor in Ashford for more than 100 years is at risk of being felled after a report found it might be damaging the Grade II-listed building.

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) has submitted plans to chop down the Copper Beech tree, which is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), in Repton Avenue near Waitrose in order to protect the future of the property.

The tree stands next to the manor in Repton Avenue
The tree stands next to the manor in Repton Avenue

It comes after a report by MWA Arboriculture Limited commissioned by the building's owner in 2018 and found the historic manor, built in 1482, has subsidence issues and extensive cracks in the walls.

The cause has been put down to the tree's roots drawing water from the soil and the company recommends the tree is removed to solve the issue.

However, resident Phil Hubbard feels the report is out of date and alternative solutions to save both the tree and the building should be considered first.

The 36-year-old started a petition to rally support for keeping the mature tree which has attracted more than 100 signatures.

He said: "They want to tear it down based on a report that’s a couple of years old and that’s part of the objection because the report also mentions building work might be a contributory factor to the damage.

Phil Hubbard has started a petition to save an ancient tree
Phil Hubbard has started a petition to save an ancient tree

"I would have thought, now building work has finished, they would redo it to make sure things haven't changed.

"People expect the manor to be looked after but that should not be at the expense of losing a mature tree.

"They’ve stood together for the last 100 or so years and we should find a way for them to continue to coexist."

Repton ward member, Cllr Bernard Heyes (Con), agrees saying: “This magnificent specimen is a significant amenity to the whole area and I feel strongly that every possible measure should be made to save this tree from being felled."

If felling does go ahead, three new saplings will be planted in its place.

How the tree looks in the summer. Picture: Google Street View, 2018
How the tree looks in the summer. Picture: Google Street View, 2018

The report says pruning was considered as an alternative option but this was not viable in the long term due to its location.

A barrier to prevent the roots reaching the structure underground was also considered however this is costly and there is a risk it may not work.

The council’s conservation officer says: "There has recently been a catastrophic collapse at the rear of the house, resulting in the loss of the massive chimney, which suggest that there are serious structural issues throughout the property – perhaps due to so many periods of adaptation and not necessarily all due to the proximity of the tree.

"While the removal of the tree would diminish part of the setting of the house – if the evidence for it damaging the house is undeniable and if all alternative protective measures have been fully considered, then regrettably its loss would need to be considered."

The future of the tree will be decided by the planning committee on Wednesday as its removal has been recommended by the tree officer, Phillip Cook.

Cllr Bernard Heyes
Cllr Bernard Heyes

One of the reasons is because the tree is 'having a deleterious impact on the structure of the irreplaceable Grade II-listed Heritage asset'.

The second is that despite the significant loss of amenity, the replanting of three trees will 'mitigate the loss'.

Mr Hubbard hopes to take the petition to the council for them to consider before the vote.

To view the petition, click here.

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