Queen Mum tree faces chop

The cathedral's tree will be removed to make way for a new health centre

The cathedral's tree will be removed to make way for a new health centre

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ITS leafy branches have served as a reminder of the Queen Mother’s visit decades ago.

Now a cherry tree planted by the much-loved royal is to be uprooted from its home at St Mary’s Cathedral to make way for a new medical centre.

Artist's impression of the new health centre to be built at St Mary's Cathedral

Artist's impression of the new health centre to be built at St Mary's Cathedral

The aging tree is in fair condition but has been recommended for removal ahead of the development of the new West End Medical Practice.

It is among 14 expected to be removed, although cathedral bosses hope part of the tree can be replanted elsewhere.

A further 48 will also be planted in their place.

Councillors on the planning committee approved the £4 million facility this week.

Based next to the famous three spires of St Mary’s Cathedral in Palmerston Place, the practice will have ten consulting rooms, a large education theatre and an open-plan space for its 8000 patients.

The existing Walpole Hall, completed in 1933, will be used as a hub incorporating a coffee bar and a stage for performing arts and meetings.

It is a significant improvement on its current location in a basement in nearby Chester Street.

The move will see the grounds of the cathedral revamped and the stonemason’s workshop, which services the landmark, rebuilt.

St Mary’s will own the premises and lease it to NHS Lothian for 25 years, with an option for a further 25.

Work on the two-storey facility is expected to begin later this year.

The provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Graham Forbes CBE, said: “I am absolutely delighted that planning approval has been granted and see this venture as an important and very exciting feature for the community.”

Although some objections were received from the heritage body the Cockburn Association and some local residents regarding the development of a new-build structure on to the historic building, the move has been well received by patients.

The cathedral itself is category A-listed and was completed by John Olrid Scott between 1874 and 1890.

Bob Anderson, chair of the Edinburgh Community Health Partnership at NHS Lothian, said: “I am extremely pleased that planning permission has been given. The proposed new practice premises will provide modern and up-to-the-minute healthcare facilities.”

Dr Dean Pope, a partner at the West End Medical Practice, added: “We are delighted and look forward to a time in the near future when we will be able to provide our patients with fit-for-purpose premises.”