RESIDENTS in a Rossendale village are fighting to save a 100-year-old tree, planned to be felled to make way for a new housing development.

More than 750 residents in Helmshore have joined a special page entitled ‘Save our Horse Chestnut Tree’ on social networking website Facebook.

The tree is on the site of the former Airtours warehouse, in Holcombe Road, where developers Taylor Wimpey have secured planning permission to build 74 houses.

The developers who are also planning to develop the former Rossendale Hospital site in Rawtenstall plan to build a mix of two, three and four bedroom houses, and two bedroom flats, with 119 parking spaces.

Resident and campaigner Ann Hodgkiss, of Holcombe Road, Helmshore said: “There is a tremendous strength of feeling about this tree. It has been there for at least 100 years and it can be clearly seen in old pictures of the site in history books.

“Mature trees like this give Helmshore its character.

“Hundreds of people in the village want to save this tree.

“Since Taylor Wimpey have been on site they have felled dozens of trees.

We want them to reconsider and allow the village to keep this beautiful Horse Chestnut tree which obviously means such a lot.”

There have been seve-ral unsuccessful redevelopment bids since the travel company left in 2003.

In 2004, the site was temporarily transformed into a travellers’ camp and travellers returned in April 2005, only to be moved on by police.

Taylor Wimpey secured planning permission from Rossendale Council on March 19, after they appealed an earlier decision to turn down the application.