Workmen axe the oak down on February 13th

Bloor developers axe well-loved Rochford oak 2

Workmen axe the oak down on February 13th

The oak tree was a site of protest before it was felled

Bloor developers axe well-loved Rochford oak

The oak tree was a site of protest before it was felled

CAMPAIGNERS in Rochford have expressed their regret and sadness after a 100-year-old oak tree that they fought hard to save was axed by developers.

Holt Farm Oak Tree in Rochford – known as Cecilia – was at the centre of a long-running dispute until Bloor Homes won their high court battle to remove protestors who had been camping and protesting at the tree since October 2022.

The tree, located next to Holt Farm junior and infant schools in Ashingdon Road, has given way for a development of 662 homes to be built by Bloor Homes.

Protesters and residents gathered early on the morning of February 13 for one final peaceful protest as workmen began cutting down the tree’s large branches.

A spokesman for the campaign group said: “We gave it our all, but are so sorry that we couldn’t protect our tree from the broken system and those who operate within it.”

The group also struck an optimistic note, however, commenting on the sense of community that the protest had fostered: “We may be losing our beautiful Cecelia, but without her, we would never have found each other.

“She brought us tighter, her community, her protectors, friendships and memories that will last forever.”

Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, has been a vocal supporter of the campaign group since its inception, and expressed dismay at the outcome.

He said: “I am deeply disappointed that Bloor Homes has chopped down the Holt Farm Oak Tree.

“Having raised this issue both in Parliament and with the CEO of Bloor Homes directly, for which I have not even had the basic courtesy of a reply.

“This whole saga is sadly totally characteristic of Bloor Homes’ arrogant, and tin-eared behaviour.

“Is it any wonder that so many property developers get a bad name when you witness the high-handed attitude of companies like Bloor Homes?”

In response to the removal of the tree, a Bloor Homes spokesman said: “The new road junction includes enhancements such as extra railings and an upgraded Toucan crossing.

“The new development will provide much needed new homes, 35 per cent of which will be affordable homes for local people.”

“The compensation and mitigation already paid to Rochford District Council for the loss of the tree has been provided for the planting, care and management of many more trees, and is part of the overall £12 million Section 106 contributions, which will support and enhance local infrastructure, education, medical provision and transport in Rochford.”

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