Save our cedar! Campaigners fight to stop a 250-year-old tree being cut down in Cheltenham

This cedar of Lebanon has stood in Cheltenham for 250 years but the council believes it is causing subsidence. Credit: ITV West Country

Campaigners in Cheltenham are trying to save an 18th Century tree from the axe.

The Cedar of Lebanon in Albermarle Gate is thought to be 250 years old. It is a popular landmark overlooking Pittville Park but the county council believes it is causing subsidence in nearby properties dating back to the 1970s and needs to be felled.

Some of the damage to Michael Calienda's home in Cheltenham. Credit: ITV West Country

Michael Calienda lives a few yards from the cedar. He says he cannot open his porch door properly and cracks which he first noticed four years ago, are getting worse.

He says, "I used to be able to rent the property. I can't rent it now because of a lack of escape. So whereas I was retiring and looking for an income, I have had to move back in." 

This tree has won a place in the hearts of local people. Credit: ITV West Country

The residents have been told that a report commissioned by the county council recommends removing the tree but Georgie Fitzgerald, whose house is the closest to the tree, says she has no problems, and would hate to see it felled. 

"I'd be heartbroken, devastated. [It would affect] the whole soul of the area, and the amenity value for the park, and for the people who use the park. I think it would be really devastating." 

A Facebook page called Cedar of Cheltenham has been started to protect the tree and to raise funds for alternative methods to deal with the problem - such as installing root blocks. Some of the residents believe local demolition work is responsible for the subsidence, not the tree.

The campaign to save the cedar has won the support of comedian Dom Joly.

The campaign to save the tree has been backed by more than 1,000 people, including the comedian Dom Joly. Credit: ITV West Country

In the view of many people living here, the tree is part of the community. They say:

"We used to spend our whole life in and around this tree. It is just immoral, if someone feels they have to cut it down. It's just such a beautiful tree."

"There is something very special about it, and every morning, I look out of my window and it is the first thing I see, so perhaps I am biased."

Gloucestershire county council has issued a statement saying, "This tree is causing major structural issues to a number of properties and there is a live insurance claim associated with it. We have invested in a nationally recognised tree specialist and investigations to help us to look at all options available and how we could keep the tree."