Published: 06:00, 22 November 2019
A decision to fell a "cherished" cherry tree has been reversed by the council after growing backlash.
The mature tree, at the Rec in Faversham, was due to be chopped down to improve visibility of the Lodge, a Grade-II listed building in the park.
But after a petition demanding Swale Borough Council not cut down the "much-loved" blossom tree received almost 2,000 signatures, the authority has backed down and confirmed it will not be removed.
"We planned to remove the tree to provide visibility of the Lodge and to reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour and vandalism of the historic building," a spokesman for SBC said.
"However, we've listened to the public and decided to keep the cherished tree.
"The cherry tree will be pruned to lift and reduce the size of the crown, providing more visibility of the Lodge, and moving it away from nearby lighting.
"This way we can keep the tree and still care for the future of the Lodge.
"We are also planting 61 new trees at the Rec that future generations will be able to enjoy for years to come."
Members of Facebook group Save Our Tree! - specially created to fight the felling - have praised the council for making the u-turn.
Jenny Reeves, who started the petition, said: "I'm delighted that this community-led protest has been successful at forcing SBC to take the feelings of those who live locally, and those who visit Faversham and know and use the Rec, into account.
"It was clear from the huge depth of feeling, with almost 2,000 people signing our petition, that the previous consultation just wasn't clear about the effect on our much-loved tree.
"With a climate emergency declared by SBC, all unnecessary felling should be stopped and be reassessed to ensure that our precious, mature carbon-capturing assets are not lost without genuine reasons."