Leicester residents' fury at loss of a 100-year-old tree during building of Sainsbury's
A 100-year-old tree had to be cut down by council staff after being damaged during the building of a small supermarket.
Residents are furious that the London Plane tree, which stood in Walton Street, off Narborough Road, in the city's West End, was removed after builders damaged roots and branches while working on a Sainsbury's Local store.
The 68ft tree was supposed to be protected as part of a planning agreement between Leicester City Council and applicants, Malthurst, who are working on behalf of the supermarket chain.
Damaging the mature tree means the firm is in breach of the agreement and the council, which had to cut the tree down, has said it is seeking legal advice about what action it can take.
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Westcotes ward councillor Andy Connelly said he was "furious" the agreement had been broken.
"This is corporate vandalism as far as I'm concerned and it's a failure by the planning department to make sure the agreement is enforced," he said.
"This was one of the concerns raised by residents when the plans were revealed, and they were told everything possible would be done to protect the environment."
Resident Philip Richards, 37, who lives opposite the site, said: "I'm livid. The tree was wonderful and the developer has acted disgracefully.
"I can only hope the council has the fortitude to enforce the breach."
A 31-year-old resident in Ivy Road, who did not want to be named, said: "It's terrible, I don't think they should be allowed to get away with it.
"Even children expect to be punished when they break rules or do something they shouldn't. I don't see how the builders are any different."
A tree conservation survey was carried out in April last year and submitted as part of the planning application.
It identified four Category A trees surrounding the site, including the London Plane, which were described as being of "significant conservation, historical or commemorative value".
The application also raises concerns regarding damage to the London Plane during construction.
It says: "All trees, particularly the large London Plane on the public highway (Walton Street) near the site, shall be protected from damage during building operations."
Developer Malthurst, of Epping, in Essex, said it did not want to comment.
A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "We have signed up to take a lease on the future retail unit.
"We did not run the application and are not involved in the construction of the building."
A city council spokesman said: "One of the conditions on the planning permission for the development was intended to control works near to the neighbouring trees to prevent damage to them.
"Despite this, during the construction one of the trees did have some roots damaged and some branches removed by the developers.
"The council has since had to take down the tree – a large London Plane tree – because of the extent of this damage.
"We are investigating the circumstances of exactly how the tree came to be damaged, and taking legal advice on action that can be taken against the developers involved."
Sainsbury's has set itself a target of 20 environmental goals by 2020.
The scheme is called the 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan and includes deforestation, Fair Trade and animal welfare.