Campaign launched to save 'elephant tree' threatened by South Shields FC plan for 70 new homes
The 70-year-old White Willow, known as the ‘elephant tree’ among residents in the area, is located between Salcombe Avenue and Shaftsbury Avenue in Low Simonside.
It is one of several on the site which is under threat following plans proposed by South Shields Football Club to build a 70-home estate to fund their major expansion project.
The club plans to sell off the former industrial estate adjacent to the ground to make way for 70 new three and four bedroom properties.
However, following a community meeting on September 30, several residents and councillors have objected to the plans.
Campaigners now say the ‘elephant tree’, which stands where the last few houses will be located, makes up a ‘wildlife corridor’ on an area of land which is used by locals daily.
They claim that the loss of this tree and others would be detrimental to wildlife in the area and that the tree is likely a roosting area for bats.
Rachael Milne, of South Tyneside Tree Action Group (STTAG) said: “The tree is a fantastic example of a mature tree in great condition. Locals tell of stories about playing under the tree as children 50 years ago and everyone I’ve spoken to really loves this tree.”
She continued: “STTAG is opposed to this development due to tree numbers that will be lost. Bats are protected and not only would roosting sites be lost with tree removal their source of food would also be lost.
“This is a wildlife corridor and should be afforded more protection.”
SSFC chairman, Geoff Thompson has previously said: “This planning application forms an important part of our strategy to develop the club and its charitable Foundation.
“I strongly believe the club has an important role to play in promoting health and well-being for children and adults across our borough, and this application will assist in delivering the capacity and infrastructure required to continue our success.”
Residents have until October 21 to have their say on the plans.