A PLANNING application to fell a ‘perfectly healthy’ yew tree in the Winchester Cathedral grounds has caused backlash amongst residents.

The proposed work involves the complete felling of a yew tree which stands within the rear garden of The Deanery in The Close, which was made known to the city council in September.

The application states that there are two reasons for wanting to fell the tree, despite admitting that the it is “quite a young age” for the species.

It reads: “The proposal arises as a direct result of recent archaeological investigations into the condition of the medieval Lockburn which runs under the existing buildings and grounds within The Close.

“Coincidentally, plans are being drawn up for a second stage of proposed development at The Deanery following those which have recently been completed.

“The tree unfortunately directly conflicts with these emerging proposals and endangers the stability of the underground Lockburn.”

Canon Annabelle Boyes, receiver general at the cathedral (pictured), supports the plan.

She said: “As custodians and guardians of the Cathedral estates, we need to strike a balance between caring for our natural environment and protecting our heritage.

“In this case, the difficult decision has been made to fell a tree in very close proximity to the medieval Lockburn in order to preserve this important medieval structure from further damage.

“The Lockburn is one of the earliest surviving drainage systems in the country, dating from 1090, and is a site of great historic significance”

However, Winchester residents believe that these are not valid reasons for felling a healthy yew.

Dr Catherine Gale, a professor of cognitive epidemiology at the University of Southampton, who lives in Culverwell Gardens, Winchester, has publicly objected to the felling.

She said: “Felling this yew tree would remove a fine, large, healthy tree that has significant landscape value now and the potential to continue enhancing the landscape for decades to come.

“The primary reason the applicants want this tree felled is that its presence is incompatible with their plan to build a road across the Deanery garden, but planning permission for that latter scheme has not yet been sought.

“In the absence of planning permission for that development, it seems unnecessary to remove this tree.”

Alongside Dr Catherine and four other people who have publicly objected via the city council’s website is Barbara Coote.

She said: “My understanding is that yew trees are a protected species.

“I can see no reason whatsoever for destroying this mature specimen and can only see a disadvantage and a very bad example by the cathedral in needlessly killing a healthy tree with a view to replacing it eventually with an unnecessary road.”