Oak set to be felled

The tree has been a site of protest since October

THE MONTHS-long fight to save Holt Farm Oak is set to end after developers won a court case to remove protestors who have been living at the tree.

 The 100-year-old oak in Ashingdon Road, Rochford, is set to be felled by developer Bloor Homes in the February half term following a legal ruling by the High Court.

The ruling granted the developer an injunction against four protestors who have been living in the tree since October 20, the date the tree was originally due to be chopped down. 

 This followed Bloor Homes’ receipt of approval to build 662 homes nearby, for who’s new road layout the tree’s removal is required. 

Following the High Court ruling, a spokesperson from Bloor Homes said: “We are pleased with outcome of the High Court hearing and expect the court order to be ratified in the coming days. While the High Court has granted the injunction, it is regrettable that matters have culminated in this way.

“Having worked with all the necessary parties throughout – Rochford District Council, Essex Highways, Holt Farm Infant School and Essex Police – and having ensured that we have always had the relevant permissions to remove the tree in line with the approved planning permission received from the planning inspectorate, the High Court injunction means we can now move forward and plan the safe removal of the tree in February during half term.”

Leanne Dalby, a member of the ‘Save Holt Oak Farm’ campaign, was one of a number of protestors who attended the court, and is now adamant that the fight is not over. 

 She said: “the judge commented that we have until February to convince Bloor to save the tree and that Bloor have until February to find an alternative design. So, we shall continue to execute our rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and urge Bloor to give us our Christmas miracle. Surely, we have proven to them how much this would mean to the people of Rochford over the last two months?”

She added that the campaign will now turn its attention to finding the owner of the land that the tree is situated on: “If we can find the actual owner of the land, this could be a game changer. As it stands, Bloor can’t prove ownership as the land is unregistered. Everything is based on assumption and presumption that it is Essex County Council.

 “I have also written an open letter to the leaders of Essex County Council and Rochford District Council to ask them to contact Bloor regarding the safety of the road plan, as I feel they are breaching Article 2 of the Human Rights Act by ignoring the many safety concerns around the road layout design.”

 She added “Finding an alternative for their access road would go a very long way to rebuilding their relationship with our community, would save the tree and would protect the children who use this part of Ashingdon Road. 

 “Imagine the great publicity they would receive for saving such a beautiful tree, compared to the negative publicity and permanent reminder there will be if they destroy it!”

about author


Stay up-to-date with Rayleigh & Eastwood