RESIDENTS are making a last-ditch appeal to save a tree from being felled at Townlands Hospital in Henley.
Work to remove trees and shrubs at the site of York Road began on Tuesday, just 24 hours after final approval was given for the hospital to be redeveloped.
On the same day, Vinci Construction delivered newsletters to nearby residents saying that a number of trees and shrubs “need to be removed”.
Neighbours in York Road are making a final attempt to save a large lime tree near the entrance to the site which is due to be cut down.
The tree, which is thought to be about 200 years old, will make way for an access road between York Road and Clarence Road which will eventually become a car park.
Patricia Campbell, 86, who was among a group of residents who campaigned to save the tree in December 2012, said: “When the development was first considered a team of surveyors was sent to look at the trees and, much to our distress, it was decided that this lovely tree would have to come down.
“Nothing happened for a while because the redevelopment has been on hold and then we received this newsletter and heard machinery and saw that the trees were being felled.
“We are now very anxious about the tree and so are desperate to save it. If we could only save that tree it would make the whole redevelopment a bit better for us.”
The tree was due to be felled today (Friday) but, after being contacted by Ms Campbell, Venti Construction agreed to hold off on the work until a final decision is made.
Ms Campbell said she was told the trees needed to be felled before the nesting season began.
She added: “Every year birds have nested in this tree and it is another sadness that their habitat could be taken away from them.”
During the public consultation over the redevelopment, residents in York Road, Clarence Road and King’s Road launched a petition against the plans which gathered 100 signatures.
Ms Campbell said: “We are not against the hospital but it’s not going to be in the right place. People wrote letters in response to the public consultation but no one has taken the slightest bit of notice.
“I don’t know how this road is going to cope with all the extra traffic. The infrastructure is just not there.
“I’ve lived here for 40 years but I’m thinking about moving with all the work that will start. I don’t want to go because I have a lot of friends here.” The newsletter said there would be an “open-door policy” for residents to visit an on-site office or make contact by phone but no contact details were included and the office it yet to open.
Marilyn Shah, 61, a speech and language therapist, said: “It’s a pity they have started felling these trees before the site office is open and before there are any means of contacting anybody.
“It’s heartbreaking that this lovely tree will go. It must be about 200 years old so any new planting to make up for the loss will take a long time to catch up.”
The newsletter said there would be “robust protection measures for those trees that form part of the final landscaping scheme and need to be protected during the construction phases”.
Project manager Mark Garner wrote: “I am aware that working and living close to a new construction site can be a daunting prospect with regards to how it may impact your daily activities.
“With this in mind my team and I will work to limit any effects our activities may have on your lives and keep you informed of forthcoming activities on site.”
“The construction phase of the Townlands Community Hospital redevelopment will be undertaken in a manner that is sympathetic to the local community and residents.”