Cutting of the Duke Street tree is underway

Cutting is underway Photo Frank Leppard

A Sycamore tree in Margate Old Town that has been the centre of a campaign to save it is being cut this morning (May 10).

The tree, which stands on an empty plot in Duke Street, is on the site of a proposed development which was given planning approval in 2018.

A notification of works was submitted last month by Duns Developments, based in Luton, for removal of the tree to clear the site ahead of building a four-storey property with five flats and a commercial unit.

Photo Frank Leppard

This morning workmen entered the site and have begun taking down branches. Kent Police officers are also on site.

The area the tree is in was one of two plots that were earmarked as garden sites under a Countdown to Turner scheme in 2011. However despite a spend of £7,881 on design, consultation and soil sample for the site and another at Cobbs Place, the gardens did not come to fruition.

The site was sold at auction as part of Thanet council’s asset disposal programme in February 2017. In 2018 permission was granted for the flats development. An application for a four-storey build on the site was previously approved in 2007 when the site formed part of a larger redevelopment scheme known as the Queen’s Arms Yard but that permission expired.

Residents Tony Wait, Chris Wilson and Dosh Archer Photo Frank Leppard

Members from Thanet Trees have staged several protests at the site. New group Mature Trees Matter was then formed and from this the Save the Duke campaign was born.

From April 27 a ten day occupation of the site took place. Save the Duke campaigners wanted to preserve the tree and revive the community garden proposals.

Photo Frank Leppard

During the occupation the campaigners built a stage, had live music and belly-dancing and were visited by a Kill the Bill march.

But on Bank Holiday Monday the site owners turned up and a confrontation took place leading to police arresting the owners and two protesters. All were later released without charge.

Photo Alan Chapman

Campaigners were evicted from the site on May 6 with the felling imminent. Members at the site this morning say they have tried to halt the felling without success.

A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Police were called to Duke Street, Margate at 8.54am on Monday, 10 May 2021 following a report that a woman was protesting against the felling of a tree. A number of people were asked to leave the area.”

Photo Frank Leppard

The group is pursuing legal action to try and halt the felling and other environmental ‘crimes’. They say Thanet has just 4 % tree canopy cover and much less in central Margate, which made the tree important for biodiversity.

They are being supported in legal action by Fight Planning Crimes, a new collective which will challenge the legalities of the felling.

The collective is represented by Paul Powlesland, an environmental lawyer who runs Lawyers for Nature.

Photo Frank Leppard

Campaigner Dosh Archer said: “We dreamed of a garden and looked after a tree. They destroy trees and lay concrete in the name of quick buck.

“We have nothing but pity and sadness for the people who allowed such an abomination to happen and pity for those who carried it out because they are unable to grasp the scientific fact that there is a Climate Emergency and to live in such a way is to live in denial, a very uncomfortable and destructive way of being.

“Our hearts are happy. We were on the side of Mother Nature. We concentrate now on the legal fight.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council says that whilst the decision from 2018, before a Climate Emergency was declared by councillors, will mean the loss of the tree, the authority will be working hard to ensure that many more trees are planted across the district.

Photo Frank Leppard

Save the Duke campaigners are raising funds for the legal challenge via a crowdjustice page at


    • It was a beautiful tree. Suggesting it’s only good for firewood says what kind of person you are. Uncaring!!!!!

    • You obviously have zero empathy for our rapidly declining wildlife and natural habitat. We live in the most tree deprived area in England, we live in a concrete crap hole and any tree that’s lost to human greed is a crime against nature and only adds to the continued war on wildlife that Thanet council is engaged in.

      So what if a tree is self seeded, that’s natures plan and it was around long before brain dead humans decided that nature and local wildlife is only there to be destroyed.

      The complete lack of concern for wildlife and nature shown by many of the commentators on this site is abhorrent. You really should be disgusted by your selfishness. Thanet council and the idiots who celebrate the all out war on nature and yet another wildlife haven being eradicated are an embarrassment to the human race.

      The destruction of one of the very last remaining habitats for wildlife in Thanet is a crime and should be punished as such

      • There were plenty of trees and buses along the bus route between Ramsgate and Broadstairs today. The most barren places I saw were the many concreted over front gardens now used for parking.

    • Amazed they didn’t get Greta & Attenborough over to speak in hushed & hectoring tones. One assumes that ‘climate activists’ Lewis Hamilton & Queen Meghan were too busy flying around on their private jets. Lewis of course doing wonders in his day job by racing round tracks all year burning insane amounts of fuel with his F1 budies & Meghan very busy lecturing about saving the planet from her 16 bathroom mansion.

  1. Yet again TDC failing to hear and listen to the people it’s supposed to represent. Money in there pockets and more than happy to cut even more services, when will people of Thanet stand up for themselves and Thanet, or is that just a dream

    • The problem is that TDC is Labour run and Labour just don’t care about anything, and have lost the publics trust (you can thank Thanet Independent councillor group for putting them in charge).

      The GE and LE all but confirmed this and pretty much confined Labour to the history books.

      • I suppose it’s an inconvenient truth for you to recognise that we’ve just had three TDC by-elections, which is by definition, listening to the people it represents. Didn’t you notice that the site was sold under the UKIP administration and that any money in whoever’s pocket is used to fund our services. Also important to point out that only about 30% of the electorate turned out to vote so “when will Thanet stand up for themselves?”. Kick the Labour administration all you like and take digs at the Thanet Independents, but it was the chaos of the current Conservative group that handed Labour the opportunity to take the reins. They’ve done a great job for the people of Thanet during a very difficult year, again that counts as an inconvenient truth. Anyway you can quote what happened on Thursday all you like, the turn out proves however you get what you don’t for….Wake up Thanet.

  2. I think an important question here is why didn’t the original plans for a garden come to fruition?

  3. Why advertise the fund if it is being cut down now? Are they going to refund the people who have contributed to it-seeing as it has failed?

        • Yes, don’t quite understand-the land was sold legally years ago. Surely the reports as to why the initial plan a decade back was abandoned must be in the public domain? One presumes that TDC will now have to spend more taxpayers money-at a time when resources are more stretched than ever fighting this action if this group raise enough cash, all for one tree that will likely eventually expire anyway.

  4. This makes me so angry. Are people utterly blind to what’s happening with the climate crisis? The problem is until it affects us then no-one cares. But it will in due course. We will struggle to grow crops (as can be seen now with an erratic jet stream atm). We will rely on imports which will be harder as other countries will need to feed their own people. If people think the number of migrants we get now is bad, just wait until the Sahel desertification increases and we see the great migration north of refugees. All trees and hedges are vital to keep the global temperature stable, no matter how insignificant this tree may seem to some, it’s part of the ecosystem we are destroying and thus reducing our chance of avoiding our extinction. Shame on all those in power who failed to stop this.

    • Maybe we are sick & tired of/climate fatigued by being lectured by/virtue signalled at by a worthy, pretentious old man on the BBC, a petulant child from Scandinavia, the Swampy brigade, pop stars worth hundreds of millions who bleat about poverty & green issues, then fly their hat halfway round the world because they feel lonely without it & construct 100 ft lemons etc on stage, royals who decide to go & live in a 16 bathroom mansion in the US & fly around on private jets, F1 drivers with their ‘vegan dogs’ racing round a track burning fuel & then hopping on their private jet to go & bed supermodels all round the world.

      Also maybe because no matter how much we recycle, find new materials to replace the older ones, use for life shopping bags etc the reality is the overwhelming amount of damage is being done by China & the US-who are always going to put profit over the planet, rain forests are still going to be cut down for greed etc. We do what we can, but it is like peeing in the wind.

    • Though of course you could look at the effects on the weather of the shut down of airspace after 911 which is generally accepted to have lowered temperatures and we’ve just had the coldest april for 60 odd years again after a protracted period of much reduced air traffic, any chance that the amount of air traffic is one of the greater influences on temperatures? And innturn weather patterns?
      And of course mass migration has nothing to do with ever increasing populations placing too great a demand on impoverished areas and the pretty well global access to the internet making it far easier for people to see what opportunities lie further afield and help them get there.
      It’s not all about c02 and one tree.

    • Trees are not the answer to anthropogenic climate change.
      Stopping the use of fossil fuels is.

  5. Now we have seen the faces of the people behind this protest, I expect to see every single one of them at the tree watering/planting gatherings that happen regularly around Thanet. I didn’t see a single one of them at Dane Valley Green or in Dane Park when hundreds of trees were planted. Classic ‘rent a mob’.

    • Many of them no doubt attention seekers. I see one of them is a local ‘artist’ who was on the ultimate look at me shows Britain’s Got Talent & Come Dine With Me & whose ‘art’ includes selling sand off of Margate Beach & I seem to recall something about painting with bodily fluids from many years back. Like his zero talent buddy Emin the real talent in this era is getting your face all over the media-no matter how trivial or meritless the story.

    • I doubt it, but if Carly Jeffrey and Gary Perkins promise to show up then even I’ll give a hand, how’s that?!

    • Seems you miss the point. Where are YOU when a mature tree is being cut down. No sign of you then of course. Of course planting new trees is needed but defending mature trees is equally or even more important. If you can’t see that and choose to ridicule those that rush to the defense of mature trees you are not as genuine as you make out. Notice all the people who are critical or nasty on here never use the name!!

      • Alan, not sure who you’re replying to, but if it’s me then you’ll know by other posts that I haven’t ridiculed any tree defenders… what I HAVE disagreed with is the ‘Kill The Bill’ protesters turning up with their anti-Tory banners, politicising the whole thing. I would never march side by side with them.

        • Hey Peter, do you ever get off your naked arse? If it’s not creating bad amateur bad soft porn then it’s not worth getting out of bed for, right?

          • Hey, it is good soft porn-I am a connoisseur of such things. Certainly a lot more artistic merit in his photos than anything in the Turner Centre, Emin’s bed etc.

          • Thank you Steve! I’m proud of my work, which is why I put together two books of highlights last year (limited stocks still available, autographed on request!), but I’m more famous/successful on a world-wide basis for the music books that I’ve written in recent years.

  6. All this fuss about a weed tree yet a G3 pitch is going at ramsgate which is more harmful to the planet and humans but not one protest !

    • They aren’t silly, they know there is a lot less chance of getting cancer up in their tree than rolling around in all those rubber crumbs.

    • And as always you will make a nuisance of yourselves with your attention seeking, waste taxpayer money on policing you, TDC/KCC having to fight your spurious crowdfunded legal actions & ultimately fail. Why don’t you go & water the street trees you moan about KCC not doing do they don’t die instead?

      • If you were out there you would see those people are in fact watering the new street trees that KCC don’t water. What that has to do with this tree being felled is besides the point really anyway. Each tree is as important as the rest and they are being felled one by one for new developments that should not be needed. This is a Government directive to build more accommodation, yet where is the infrastructure and services to go with it? It is them who changed the laws to allow easy development yet at the same time proclaim a Climate Emergency. Tories don’t care about anything other than their bank balances and greedy business partners. Too much inbreeding going on.

  7. People are quick to point out that we need more housing in Thanet yet want to preserve a tree.
    From the pictures, the large tree looks unsuitable for that position and could become a danger to nearby buildings.
    Better to plant more suitable trees in more appropriate areas.
    If the removal of the tree is legal, there is little which can be done to oppose its removal.
    The tree encampment did little to enhance the look of the area, so hopefully the completed building work will look better.

    • Seaside lover

      100% correct but don’t let that stop the tree huggers lol

      A weed tree that has self planted, a tree that will grow 60 ft plus, a tree that should be in a woodland environment.
      A tree that will grow so big nothing will grow underneath it ! A tree that drops horrible stick sap everywhere which all the natural dirt sticks to.

      Sycamore isnt a town tree, it isnt a tree for small spaces. Of all the trees to try and save they pick the most unpopular tree there is !

    • Always the way-we need more affordable housing they cry, yet whenever it is going to be built suddenly there they are saying it is an area of outstanding natural beauty & not in my area. No doubt there are some genuine people interested in conservation, but most of them it is don’t want potential trouble families/people near me, fine somewhere else though.

      • If you go to the site. You can clearly see, by the marks on the property next door. A house or shop was there first before the self sown tree.

  8. If there really is a Climate Emergency (and for arguments sake I’ll go along with that), then it needs to be done differently. A start would be a total ban on all new builds unless they’re within a one mile easy walk (ie with a pavement) to essential shopping. Instead, more and more are forced into cars, yet at the same time people my elderly and frail mother is expected to take 80 or more items out of Tesco (etc) delivery baskets because they now no longer use even recyclable or compostable bags.

    As someone who has never driven a car or produced any offspring, I’ve probably done less damage to the planet in my 58 years than the majority of adults my age. Perhaps there also needs to be greater incentive for more to act responsibly rather than just banning things?

    • peter dear, this is exactly what they are doing here. cutting down this tree to build a house which is so central no one needs to drive anywhere! your brilliant ideas is already live! #gamechanger

      • Indeed, I’d rather see them building new homes in towns, but not to the expense of (a) mature trees, and (b) a site that (alledgedly) got funding for a public garden.

      • She does that herself (she’s frail but her marbles are still there), but they’ve now stopped delivering them in bags. So she has to take all the items out of the big baskets while the driver waits to take them back.

  9. It’s nice to that health and safety officers are present seeing as the man cutting the tree down is not wearing chainsaw gloves to protect his hands and finger’s.?

    • I understand this self sown tree had to come down. I am sure there used to be a building on this site. you can see where it was attached to the next door building. But as you say no gloves, or any headgear for the people cutting it down, very professional looking outfit. I wonder if they are staying near the treatment works at Palm Bay at the moment?

  10. you need to EDUCATE yourself and realize that ONE tree will not save the planet. walking around in your cheap Primark plastic jumpers and plastic Nike trainers while hugging a tree is pure hypocrisy. you would do more good if you would start fundraising and PLANTING new trees in areas where they would be protected. This whole protest was nonsense. My neighbour just cut down two massive 50yo+ trees because they were casting a shadow on his bedroom. Have not seen one hippie around those.

    • Maybe you should’ve alerted Thanet Trees to your neighbour’s proposed actions.

  11. The people that seem to comment negatively on this tree don’t even give their real name. They are COWARDS because they hide. All trees are important to life…..make no mistake this is about MONEY….ker..ching! Now watch the abuse I’m now going to get for saying it!

      • Vegan cheese made from imported Cashew nuts that have travelled thousands of air miles to feed the virtue signallers….Ker…Ching.

    • I hope the five flats planned for this small urban patch of land means that 5 fewer homes need to be built on greenfield land.

      I agree with “Mr. X” that a sycamore is not at all suitable for a site such as this one in Duke Street. The fact that the Old Town in Margate has “less than 2% tree cover” is irrelevant unless it compares unfavourably with similar sites elsewhere.

      • Martha, I completely agree with you. The sycamore is not suitable.

        This is probably the first time we agree with each other.

    • You should get your own back and call him “The Pox”! ; )

      But as someone who lives in Birchington, I too would rather they cram as much into Margate instead (heck, they can build a few more Arlington Houses if they want!).

  12. So many comments on what was a rubbish tree self sown in the wrong place. I’m sure that there are plenty more self sown sycamore saplings that will need protecting in Fort Road yard once they start to develop that blot on the landscape.

  13. They would have had more support if they actually made a nice campsite and not made it look like someone just flytipped some junk under a tree… like seriously that place was just awful looking.. also coupled with the anti vax and anti mask sticker that was slapped on the side of thier hobo hideout is what made me no longer sympathise with them

    • I didn’t know about the anti-vax and mask bit, otherwise I would’ve lost sympathy for them before the anti-Tory ‘Kill the old bill’ mob descended on Margate.

  14. It’s a disgrace that a mature tree should never had come down that part of the old town is in a flood plain a river runs underground.Somebody must know about that. It seems the owner lives in king Street I would not support her business with her attitude towards local people.

    • It is not a “flood plain” and I doubt very much that any rivers run under the ground where the underlying rock is permeable chalk.
      But even if there was, a tree will make absolutely no difference.
      Many 10000s of trees on the catchment area hillsides will slow down the movement of rain into any rivers, true.

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