A COUNCIL leader has given his backing to calls to uproot and relocate a 100-year-old tree which is facing the axe due to a new housing development.

Holt Farm Oak Tree, in Ashingdon Road, Rochford, is facing the chop after developer Bloor Homes won its battle to build 662 new homes on land nearby.

The tree would need to be removed due to plans for a new road layout to serve the new estate.

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Campaigners have called for the tree to be saved, and claim experts would be able undertake the "mammoth" task of moving it.

Their bid to save the tree has now been handed a major hoost of Rochford Council leader, Simon Wootton, echoed calls to relocate the tree.

He said: “I fully support the campaign to save this tree.

“A suggested new location for the tree could be Cherry Orchard Country Park.

“I am calling on Bloor Homes to recognise their community, social and environmental responsibility and work with me, along with professional consultants, to re-site this tree.”

A petition was set up over a month ago to save the tree and has been signed by 796 people.

Leanne Dalby, who set the petition up and as been at the forefront of the Save Holt Tree campaign, said: “It is great to see the council has acknowledged the campaign and that Mr Wootton supports the saving of the tree.

“If Rochford Council aren’t able to negotiate a new road layout with Essex County Council and Bloor, so that the tree can remain in its current location, then relocation to a close by site would be preferred.

“Cherry Orchard is a nice idea; however, the traffic pollution won’t be so much of an issue there, in comparison to where the tree is now, outside the school.

“My comments to Bloor would be even though they are planning to plant some saplings, it is much better to keep one mature tree, than it is to plant lots of small new ones, as it will takes decades for them to provide the same level of benefit this special oak tree does.”

Rochford Council has no further powers to intervene in the removal of the tree after planning permission for the new homes was approved. 

However, bosses are trying to discuss with Bloor Homes on whether the removal of the tree, or transplanting of the tree, can be reconsidered.

A spokesman for Bloor Homes said: “We are in discussion with Rochford Council regarding the approved planning permission and highway accesses to the site.”