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Petition to save mulberry tree from the axe

‘We all know we need more homes but the consultation process is not clear enough’

12 February, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Protecting the tree: Jo Broughton and son Sonny; and Zoe Alzamora with her dog Treasure

A NEW battle over the future of a tree has opened up in Highbury, where residents are campaigning to save a 70-year-old mulberry from the axe.

The felling is part of a development planned at the Park View estate in Collins Road, where 38 new social homes will be built.

A petition online calling for the tree to be saved has gathered more than 700 signatures, with residents saying it fruits every year and neighbours enjoy making mulberry jam.

Zoe Alzamora, who lives on the Park View estate, said: “They can’t just say ‘we are going to do this’. It is out of order.

“Most are in favour of the development. We all know we need more homes. The problem is the consultation is not clear enough. They are not holding it in a meaningful way.”

The council said the mulberry tree needs to be axed to make way for cables and pipes near the front of the building. It says an assessment by a tree expert said the tree is near the end of its life.

It was originally due for the chop two years ago but residents campaigned to save it – and are now back with objections.

Initial plans for the site were to build private homes but the revised application says the new homes will be for social rent.

Green councillor for Highbury East Caroline Russell said: “Islington is a borough where many people live with a deficiency of access to green space and after a year of lockdown, people are understandably more attached to their trees and green space than ever before. The council needs to review its attitude to trees and planning and understand that people need trees and homes, it shouldn’t be a binary choice of either/or.”

Jo Broughton, who lives on the estate, said: “My issue is that this tree can’t speak for itself. It has been here for 70 years.”

Islington Council’s housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “The council is committed to delivering decent, secure, affordable homes for all, and the project on Park View estate will create 38 much-needed council homes for local people.

“We’re determined to ensure that new developments are as environmentally sustainable as possible, and removing trees is always a last resort.

“That is why, when the mulberry tree’s short remaining life and extremely low chances of survival became apparent, the council moved quickly to propose planting a mature mulberry tree in a more suitable location as a replacement.”

He added: “We are pleased that residents on the estate supported this proposal when it was suggested in October 2019, and that the project will result in a net gain of six trees.”

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