PLANS to protect a 150-year-old tree for decades to come are set to be thrown out by Southend Council over fears it “poses a danger to motorists”.

Protestors have been campaigning to save the London plane tree - affectionately named Chester - and more than 30,000 people have signed an online petition.

The tree, which sits on Chichester Road close to the former Churchill’s Diner site, was due to be demolished if plans for homes were approved.

Despite the plans being rejected, residents fear for the future of the tree and resident Tim Fransen submitted a tree protection order to Southend Council.

The order is set to be debated at a development control meeting on April 3 but officers have recommended the order is refused.

Reasons for the suggested refusal include the size of the trunk which is restricting access to the footpath and forcing people to walk in the hope.

Mr Fransen said: “This just cannot hold up.

“I mean, there is no looking at what is impacting this, and I do not see why the junction cannot be altered or become expanded or widened.

“It is unbelievable to me, it is clear officers want the tree gone and there is not to be much further discussion on it.”

Southend Tree Action group organised a protest on Saturday which saw dozens of residents march through the High Street and to the council’s Civic Centre on Victoria Avenue.

A spokesman said: “There hasn’t been an effort to save Chester, our proposals have not been taken seriously and it is clear they want the tree gone.

“Why wouldn’t you save Chester? It is the only tree stopping pollutants in the area as it has done for a long time.

“Attempts to talk with the developers to alter the pavement is not looking at the full range of options to protect the tree, it is a non-starter to suggest every option has been evaluated yet.

“We have been approached by a barrister and we are looking to start a crowdfunder to take this even further.

“This game cannot keep being played, this is affecting people and Southend remains below the necessary canopy cover.

“On a hot day, there is nowhere to take shelter, especially on the seafront.”