People living in Clavering are campaigning to save an "irreplaceable" ancient oak tree which is under threat of development.

The tree previously made headlines in September last year, when a school bus crashed into it and had its roof ripped off by the branches, resulting in several children being hospitalised.

An application was submitted in December 2023 for five houses on the outskirts of Clavering on east side of Clatterbury Lane.

Saffron Walden Reporter: The tree in ClaveringThe tree in Clavering (Image: Supplied)

The tree was originally intended to be retained and its root zone protected, but Essex Highways rejected the original location for access to the development as it did not provide adequate visibility of the public highway.

Developer Pelham Structures then revised the scheme to include removing the tree - creating an access road in its place and citing safety concerns following the bus collision as grounds for its removal.

Clavering resident Jilly McNaughton said: "To destroy this irreplaceable, ancient oak would be sacrilege.

"Aside from being beautiful, it has stood for centuries among our ancestors, who likely pollarded it to mark the historic boundary of our parish.

"It is beloved by locals; its branches wave a welcome as you return home to the village. It supports numerous species, offering habitat to protected bats.

"Trees like this should be honoured and revered by society and automatically protected in law - not destroyed in an attempt to get planning permission in an unsafe location."

The school bus crashed in September while manoeuvring past a car travelling in the opposite direction, and was carrying pupils from Saffron Walden County High School and Joyce Frankland Academy in Newport.

Many villagers feel that more efforts should be made to preserve the tree from harm, as well as saving it as a historical asset and a habitat for wildlife.

Jilly said: "So far Essex Highways have done nothing to either make the situation safe for people or protect the tree from damage.

"No lopping work can remedy the situation as it wasn’t a branch but the trunk which the bus hit because it pulled in.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Plans for the new access routePlans for the new access route (Image: Supplied)

"What is needed is a simple kerb, bollard priority arrow sign (known as a one way working chicane priority arrangement) which would also serve to slow traffic entering the village. 

"The road is not wide enough to accommodate two large vehicles passing here and so it urgently needs to be made into a one way system with a priority arrangement. 

"Removing the tree is not a logical answer to Essex Highways’ safety issues or the developers’ access problems. It represents a cynical attempt to get around Essex Highways' visibility requirements at all costs.


"The cost of losing this irreplaceable tree would be too great. Therefore the proposed development should not go ahead."

A petition has been set up to save the tree at

Essex County Council has not yet submitted an updated response to the new plans for the tree's removal.

Members of the public have until Wednesday, February 28 to comment on the revised plans.

Comments can be made on Uttlesford District Council's planning portal, using the reference number UTT/23/3135/FUL.