RESIDENTS and Councillors have expressed their dismay after a 100-year-old tree outside the former house of Sir Clement Attlee was chopped down.

The London Plane Tree towered over the Monkhams Avenue home where former Prime Minister Attlee lived while he was MP for Walthamstow West.

But it was cut down by the current occupant of the house last Saturday (March 3).

Although the house has a blue plaque and is due to be included in a new conservation area, there was no preservation order on the tree.

David Pearce of the Green, has lived on the Monkhams Estate for most of his life, and was shocked when he noticed the tree had disappeared.

He said: “I’m disappointed and I’m upset.

“The Council have failed the community, because they should have put a preservation order on the tree the moment the blue plaque went on the house.”

The house is due to be included in the new Monkhams Conservation Area which ironically would have made it impossible for the owners to chop down the tree.

Monkhams Councillor Michael Stark has been one of the prime movers behind plans for the new conservation area.

He said: “I called the Council’s tree preservation officer, but he tells me there was no TPO on this tree.

“I just shrug my shoulders in despair. It is just awful that something like this should have happened.

“I go up and down that road all the time and it was a beautiful tree.”

President of the Woodford Historical Society, Peter Lawrence was similarly saddened by the loss of one of the area’s natural landmarks.

He said: “If there wasn’t a preservation order on the tree, then it was a major oversight.

“It just amazes me that there was nothing in place to stop this happening.

“We are talking about a site of great local historical interest here.”

In an email sent to local councillors and residents seen by the Guardian, the Council’s Planner for Trees and Landscaping, Christian Sheldon, says he is in ‘shock and disbelief’ about the removal of the tree.

And he added: “Had our office had the slightest clue that the removal of the tree was imminent, my colleagues or I would have acted as a matter of urgency to ensure its preservation.”

But that did not satisfy Mr Pearce, who said: “It’s closing the gate after the horse has bolted, isn’t it?”

The Guardian attempted to contact the owner of the house for a comment but has been unable to do so.

Click here to follow the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian on Twitter