London Indymedia

Save the Slough Cedar!!

Slough of Despond | 23.09.2004 00:03 | Ecology | London

Tesco are about to resubmit a planning application for their new flagship store in Slough. Only problem is – there’s a rare, 144 year old, Lebanese Cedar tree in the way. Being Corporate Sponsors of the Woodland Trust (protectors of ancient trees), there is obviously only one solution – chop it down!

As it was
As it was

As it is
As it is

As it will be (the glass tower)
As it will be (the glass tower)

As Tesco announce new record profits, they are set to go ahead and destroy some of the few remaining pleasant parts of one of the communities they claim to serve – Slough. Hemmed in by concrete, Slough boasts a beautiful, 144 year-old Lebanese Cedar tree, tucked in between the existing Tesco and the train station (just behind the roundabout at the start of “The Office”)

When Tesco first bought and “developed” the site, this rare tree was granted a specific Tree Protection Order, in recognition of its importance, not least as a regular gathering point for thousands of migrating starlings. Now, Tesco have new expansion plans, which do not include the Cedar. They have bought the only competing supermarket, the Co-Op, and turned it into a Tesco. When the Office of Fair Trading investigated and threatened further action ( ) it was revealed that their actual intention was to use it as a temporary site whilst they redeveloped their existing store, then shutting it down.

The new store is expected to have 60% more shopping space, doubling the size of the car park by adding 335 new spaces, and a new walkway (complete with glass tower that lights up at night) across the A4 to the High Street (potentially cutting out the competing Queensmere shopping centre, which shoppers walking in from the High Street currently walk through). If it goes ahead, then this £30 million development will be the 5th largest Tesco in the country.

Since news of the plans to replace the 144 year-old rare tree with a glass tower that lights up at night leaked out, local residents, in conjunction with the Slough Observer, have collected several thousand signatures in various petitions of protest. The Cedar is a wonderful, beautiful thing that cannot be replaced. It is important for the migrating birds, it is important for the drainage of the land in a concrete desert, it symbolises the power and vitality of nature in even the most notoriously urban environment. The Cedar is only half-way through its expected 300 year life-span, to chop it down to make way for a building not expected to last more than 25 years makes no sense in any language except that of money. Even if Tesco make good their promise to “replace” the Cedar with 8 others ( ), this will in no-way make up for the loss of this one magnificent tree, or absorb the emissions from the huge increase in cars and delivery lorries visiting the site (though we’ll still have the new ones anyway, even if the Cedar stays)

Even more bizarrely, Tesco are a “Corporate Sponsor” of the Woodland Trust (“the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity”), yet seem to think nothing of abandoning their concern for ancient woodland when confronted with a choice between that and illuminated glass towers. The Woodland Trust themselves have written to Slough Borough Council’s planning department, opposing the current plan.

It is not too late to stop this madness. We’re pretty much resigned to Tesco getting their application through in some shape or form, but not at unnecessary waste of the Cedar. Local residents and councillors opposed to the plan have called for 2 demonstrations before the final application decision is made on Tuesday 28th September:

Monday 27th September: 1pm – a vigil by the Cedar (between Tesco, the Brunel Bus Station and Slough Train Station)
Tuesday 28th September: 6pm – a protest outside Slough Town Hall, Bath Road, to demonstrate to the members of the Planning Committee the strength of feeling towards the Cedar, followed by attending the Committee to see what they decide in our interests. It is within the power of the Planning Committee to pass the decision to the full Council for discussion.

It is not too late to stop this – please support us in anyway you can, and stop the relentless destruction of our common heritage to fuel the profits of a few

Please download and print out this poster for display in prominent places


(the letter sent to the Slough Borough Council’s Planning Department by the Woodland Trust about the behavioud of one of their Corporate Sponsors, Tesco …)

Planning Department
Slough Borough Council
Wellington House
Off Town Square

24 August 2004

Dear Sirs,

Your Reference: P/01196/032
Redevelopment of the Tesco Store, Wellington Street, Slough

We have recently become aware of the potential impact of the proposed redevelopment of the Tesco Store and footbridge across Wellington Street on an important historic Cedar of Lebanon. Although the period for consultation on this application has passed we would appreciate it if our comments could be taken into consideration.

We understand that the cedar would be removed and this is primarily because of the importance of the location for a proposed footbridge over Wellington Street to enhance the link between the supermarket, the station and the town centre.

These comments are delivered on behalf of the Woodland Trust, the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. We achieve our purposes through a combination of acquiring woodland and sites for planting and through wider advocacy of the importance of protecting ancient woodland, enhancing its biodiversity, expanding woodland cover and increasing public enjoyment. We own over 1,050 sites across the country, covering 17,000 hectares.

These comments are also delivered on behalf of the Ancient Tree Forum. The Ancient Tree Forum (ATF) has always pioneered the conservation of ancient trees and is the main UK organisation concerned solely with their conservation. The ATF seeks to secure the long-term future of ancient trees through advocacy of the importance of their protection, encouraging research, promoting best conservation practice and increasing people's enjoyment of old trees. It is important that there is no further avoidable loss of ancient trees through development pressure, agricultural clearance, mis-management or poor practice.

The Cedar of Lebanon

The importance of this tree has already been recognised by the Council on behalf of the community of Slough, as it is covered by Tree Preservation Order. It was of sufficient importance at the time of the development of the existing Tesco supermarket for it to be saved.

The tree, located on the western side of the existing Tesco store has been measured this week and we have recorded that it has a diameter of 140 cms at 1.5m from the ground. In consultation with John White, one of the country’s leading dendrologists, we have estimated the tree to be at least 144 years old and therefore likely to have been planted before 1860. It is however quite possible that the tree has not grown steadily throughout its life. It may well have grown more slowly in recent years due to development activity around it. Therefore it could have started life at the same time as the building of Slough Station and the opening of the Great Western Railway. It is possible that it was part of a commemorative planting in the grounds of the British Orphan Asylum to mark this important occasion or alternatively to celebrate the life of the Duke of Wellington who died in 1852

It is possible to see an area of land on the 1881 maps which show a small area of land with trees alongside it. This appears to correspond with modern maps and aerial photos of the piece of land in which the tree is located today. There is therefore continuity of green space in this location back at least 150 years and before. This single tree has helped to peel back the layers of history surrounding Slough’s development and we do not think that this should be dismissed lightly.

Furthermore this tree could potentially live for at least another 150 years if it is managed sympathetically.

Trees, especially mature and historic trees provide a great deal of benefit to modern society. In a world of massive change, as is proposed in this situation, they give a sense of stability, help reduce stress, help to reduce the effects of pollution as well as being living organisms of great amenity value.

We believe that Slough Borough Council could be more proactive in the protection of important trees. A full survey of historic and ancient trees within the Borough should be undertaken and the results provided on a public web site. This would enable Slough Borough Council to take greater account of them in planning applications.

The Woodland Trust and the Ancient Tree Forum strongly opposes the proposed application because:

It would lead to the removal of an historic tree which has the potential to live for many years to come.

It would lead to the loss of open space which should be at a premium in the heart of the urban area of Slough.

It runs contrary to the policies in the local plan dealing with standard of design (EN1) and landscaping requirements (EN3) both of which state that mature trees should be retained.

Policy EN4 on tree preservation orders clearly states:
”Development will not be permitted if it would damage or destroy one or more trees which are protected by their tree preservation order designation or because they are located in a conservation area, unless:

a) it would be in the interests of good arboricultural practice and/or
b) the desirability of the proposed development outweighs the amenity value of the protected trees.

In our view, the location of the footbridge and therefore the overall design of the scheme should be reconsidered so that it avoids the loss of this historic tree.

Yours sincerely

Jill Butler
Conservation Policy Officer
The Woodland Trust

Slough of Despond


Display the following 6 comments

  1. Slough area-like every other area-people must act! — resident
  2. counter-info — Mystery Shopper
  3. Tesco and Trees — Barry Freeman
  4. Save The Cedar Tree — Rob Widger
  5. Apology to Indymedia — Richard Hill
  6. cedar trees in Slough — rob Jones


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