A RENEWED bid to fell a century-old tree so wealthy residents of one of the region’s most exclusive streets can have a clearer view of Durham Cathedral has failed after an impassioned plea to keep it.

Beth Bell, who has led the campaign to preserve the towering Lawson cypress, told Durham county councillors the tree, dubbed Elsee, had a dedicated website, a Facebook page and Instagram account followed by thousands of schoolchildren all over the country.

Elsee was made subject of Tree Preservation Order when homeowners in South Street asked for permission to chop it down last year.

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Principal planning officer Alan Dobie, recommending a new application to fell it be refused, said the tree contributed significantly to character of the conservation area.

There had been 12 letters from local residents supporting the felling on the grounds that it was a non-native tree and out of character.

Resident Ronan Freeley, who applied to have it removed told a planning committee meeting: “Imagine if you looked out of the front window of your own home and you had a choice would you rather look at a tall never-changing dark conifer or else a enjoy the amenity and ever changing colour and textures of a beautiful deciduous ash tree.”

Mrs Bell said she had written two children’s stories about Elsee and would be meeting a publisher to have them printed in the spring.

She added: “She is not just any tree, but this isn’t the end of her story. Clearly there is still a chapter to be written and while I recognise not all stories have a happy endings I pray that this one does. The ending is up to you.

“I beg you to have the courage to write a story of hope so that, like Durham, this story and this tree can remain proud for generations to come.”

A petition set up on Sunday to keep Elsee has attracted 270 supporters.

Councillors voted overwhelmingly to recommend the chief planning officer refuse the bid.