'Hard day' for locals as much-loved Earls Barton conker tree felled to preserve listed wall
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The beloved conker tree that stood in Earls Barton’s High Street was felled this week.
The process began on Monday morning (October 16), and in the afternoon the horse chestnut that has stood for more than 100 years was removed, allowing the grade 2-listed wall it sits behind to be rebuilt and restored.
Sue Payne, a resident of Earls Barton, said: “The village is upset about the loss of their beloved tree and feel councillors have completely disregarded not only the petition of 900+ signatures and 70+ objections to the planning application, but have also gone against the wishes of their own parish council.
"It's a hard day for us all but specially the children who have got upset on their way to school this morning having witnessed the felling of the tree where, up until yesterday, they were collecting conkers.”
Sue also added that she felt ‘let down’ by the news, as she attended the council meeting in May where it was decided the tree would be felled to preserve the grade 2-listed wall that it stands alongside.
The wall, which is the last remaining remnants of the old manor house, will now be demolished and repaired, with the intention of using as much of the existing material as is safe to do so.
However, following the approval, Sue said: “With so many bricks damaged or missing it calls into question the legitimacy of its listed status as there would be so little left of its original fabric.”
Earls Barton Parish Council shared a Facebook post, acknowledging the felling and noting its disappointment at the news.
It said: "Earls Barton Parish Council worked tirelessly on trying to preserve this tree.
"We asked for and attended numerous meetings with the landowners, their contractors and advisers, North Northants Council (NNC) Planning Officers, Tree Officers and Highways Officers, NNC Ward Councillors for Earls Barton and the Leader of NNC.
"In addition, we took informal independent advice from our own contractors and sources, made suggestions as to how the wall could be rebuilt to save the horse chestnut tree, which were then investigated by the landowners, and made a written objection to the application relating to the removal of the tree as well as speaking on behalf of the people of Earls Barton at the planning committee meeting where the decision was made to grant planning permission.”We did everything within our power to influence the decision making process and we are disappointed with the outcome.
"However, the decision ultimately was for the Local Planning Authority, in this case NNC.
“We are sad to see this magnificent tree felled.”
Due to the nature of the tree’s roots resting against the wall, both could not viably be preserved.
The initial application from Greatwell Homes submitted in February noted the wall has ‘a significant number of defects’, believing it to be unsafe due to it being near a well-used footpath, which has been inaccessible since the application was submitted.
A root barrier was proposed at the May NNC meeting, but was deemed unsuitable by the present landscape officer Felicity Webber as it would ‘be cutting through major root material and damaging the tree.’
The felling ends over 100 years of its presence in the village.