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Tree facing chop - 22 years after being saved by campaign

PUBLISHED: 13:06 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:03 19 March 2020

Geoffrey Weaver, who helped save the large beech tree on Paxton Place, Norwich, in 1998 from being felled. The tree is again at risk of being cut down. Picture: Kate Weaver

Geoffrey Weaver, who helped save the large beech tree on Paxton Place, Norwich, in 1998 from being felled. The tree is again at risk of being cut down. Picture: Kate Weaver

Kate Weaver

It has dominated a residential street for over a century and is a much-loved natural feature of the skyline.

The century-old beech tree in Paxton Place, Norwich. Picture: Kate WeaverThe century-old beech tree in Paxton Place, Norwich. Picture: Kate Weaver

But 22 years after protestors saved the “beautiful” beech tree from being cut down on Paxton Place, off Newmarket Road in Norwich, to make way for seven new homes it is again at risk of being removed.

Geoffrey Weaver, 82, from Newmarket Road in Norwich, who successfully campaigned to save the beech tree in Paxton Place in Norwich from being felled.The tree is now at risk of being felled again.Picture: Kate WeaverGeoffrey Weaver, 82, from Newmarket Road in Norwich, who successfully campaigned to save the beech tree in Paxton Place in Norwich from being felled.The tree is now at risk of being felled again.Picture: Kate Weaver

This time it is because of safety reasons, according to a Norwich City Council spokesman.

The front page of the Evening News on February 3, 1998, when protestors saved the beech tree off Newmarket Road in Norwich from being cut down. Picture: Archant archiveThe front page of the Evening News on February 3, 1998, when protestors saved the beech tree off Newmarket Road in Norwich from being cut down. Picture: Archant archive

On February 3, 1998, the successful protest to save the tree from being felled in the small cul-de-sac made front page news in the Norwich Evening News.

Graham Blyth, 60, from Paxton Place, who was involved in the 1998 campaign, said: “Once again we are back to square one.”

Campaigners climbed into the branches of the tree which was on land being developed and the Evening News reported at the time that the developer wanted the tree taken down for sewerage.

It moved where that infrastructure would be built in order to save it.

But on Tuesday, concerned neighbours learned the tree faced being felled after the homeowners of the garden where the tree stands made enquiries about the large specimen’s safety and a tree surgeon and officer from Norwich City Council were called out.

MORE: Urgent call for more trees to be planted to tackle climate change



Geoffrey Weaver, 82, from Newmarket Road, who overlooks the tree and was campaign co-ordinator in 1998, said neighbours were not angry at the people who called out the tree expert or council and understood that the tree would have to be felled if it was a “risk to life”.

But he, Mr Blyth and the homeowner who called the expert out wanted a second opinion from another tree expert.

Mr Blyth said: “The tree surgeon was loathed to cut the tree down. We are planning to have an independent expert to scan the tree. The tree is important because it is a dominant feature on the skyline. It is inhabited by a lot of birds and wildlife. It is part of a corridor for birds. Most of us look out at it from our windows. Large trees like the beech tree are beautiful. They cannot be replaced.”

Mr Weaver said: “I feel very sad about it. It is a lovely tree. It is a delight to behold. It would be a bereavement if it went. Mature trees are not common in the city.”

The council spokesman said that the tree was not council-owned, subject to a tree preservation order and not in a conservation area.

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