Posts Tagged ‘leafield’

Reprieve for historic tree

August 21st, 2013

Remember the historic chestnut tree, threatened with the axe by an insurance company? We’re delighted to report that the tree has received a stay of execution.

The tree was planted in 1927 to celebrate the piping of water to Leafield village. There was a planting ceremony with prayers, hymns and speeches. But it was threatened with destruction when RSA Insurance Group (formerly Royal and Sun Alliance) claimed that it was responsible for cracks in the wall of a nearby house, Butchers Cottage.

Leafield locals, determined to save the tree, met on the hottest day of the year (14th July) to share their concerns. Those present included children, a pregnant woman and a 92-year-old, along with most of Leafield’s parish councillors. Residents also started a petition which has gained 145 signatures so far. The show of feeling prompted the parish council to hold a formal public meeting.

Now the campaigners have received the best news they could have hoped for: RSA Insurance Group has become aware of public feeling and has also inspected the report sent to them by Dr Giles Biddle, an independent tree expert employed by the parish council. RSA has agreed a “stay of execution” for the tree while further investigation is carried out.

Residents have always argued that the date set for felling the tree (29th July) was too soon and that the decision was made without enough evidence. The surveyor working for the insurance company did not have certain facts to hand – for example, he was not aware that previous owners of Butchers Cottage had carried out underpinning, or that  an older building used to rest alongside the wall in question before being demolished because it was causing damp.

The Leafield campaigners believe that a fair, unhurried look at the evidence will show that the tree is not the cause of the problems with the property. Resident Anney Harris said: “We hope against hope that the tree may be allowed to remain.”

Urgent: insurance threat to Leafield landmark

July 23rd, 2013

An ancient chestnut tree on Leafield village green is threatened with felling – because an insurance company believes it is to blame for cracks in nearby buildings. The huge horse chestnut tree, which dates back to 1927, could be chopped down as soon as next Monday.

Horse chestnut tree on village green

The tree has been a Leafield landmark for nearly a century.

The problems began when residents living near the green contacted their insurance company about cracks in the walls of their house. A geotech engineer and a tree surgeon working for the insurance company concluded that the cracking is the fault of the tree and that the tree must go.

However, other residents believe that the professionals did not take the full picture into account. For example, the surveyor was not aware of underpinning work done by the previous owners of the property and also did not take into account how one of the wettest summers on record would affect a clay soil.

But Leafield Parish Council has agreed to cut down the tree and has set a date of 29th July. Campaigners believe that the council is being pushed into a hasty decision by the insurance company, Royal & Sun Alliance. They are asking for a “stay of execution” to allow for more evidence to be gathered and reviewed.

The parish council is holding a public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 24th July) where people can raise their concerns about the tree. Resident Anney Harris said: “Once insurance companies are involved in a claim, it becomes an unstoppable juggernaut, and this is what makes our chances of changing their minds so frail. But the more people who join the call to save this tree, the more chance we have of being successful.”

The public meeting will take place at 8pm tomorrow in Leafield Village Hall, off Lower End. All are welcome. Please come along and speak out to save this piece of local history.