Tuesday, 6 November 2012

And a happy birthday to you too!

Whilst the main focus of this blog is the care and preservation of our street trees, and more generally trees in public spaces, we are also happy to publicise the difficulties and dilemmas people are having that are related to trees on private land.

This story came our way last week. It is hard to understand how our planning system can result in such a brutalising process. The thorny issue of damage to property by tree roots is immensely complex and the Brockley Society Tree Wardens are actively seeking a meeting with Lewisham Planning Department to discuss the problem. In the meantime, if you have stories to share that have left you wondering about our priorities when it comes to our local tree stock, please get in touch using the email address on the Contacts tab above. 

Lucy writes: 

It was a sad day indeed when I returned home from work one evening in early October to find the beautiful, large apple tree in our front garden felled to the ground. I was shocked, angry and upset that this had happened and went straight onto the Lewisham Council website to search for a number to call to alert them. In doing so, I noticed a link to a list of planning applications and to my great surprise, top of the list was my address (my actual flat number) listed with the request to fell the apple tree – approved!

[Here is the tree - to the right of the front door]

After speaking with the council it transpired that our neighbour had in fact applied for the tree to be felled and this had been approved by the Lewisham Council Planning Department and the Amenity Society Panel without the need to notify us - the owners of the property where the tree is located!

Sadly, the deed is done and no amount of complaining can restore the tree or the character it provided to the property. However, having seen the very lengthy list of approved tree felling in The Brockley Society newsletter this month, I am disappointed that the planning authority and the local amenity society seem to be approving these applications rather than trying to protect the trees in our conservation area and find alternative solutions where trees are deemed to be causing a problem.

The reason none of these applications are receiving appeals is because nobody knows about them, unless you happen to browse the Lewisham Planning Department application website on a regular basis on the off chance an application is submitted for your front garden or neighbouring property – not something I’m sure many people do in their spare time!

Sadly, many of the trees felled may have been saved if the locals were aware of the proposals and had a chance to appeal. It seems to me the planning process needs to be reviewed to avoid these scenarios in our lovely neighbourhood - so keep up the good work Tree Wardens of Brockley and good luck liaising with the council and other bodies to reduce these tree losses in the future.

Since this story was penned, we have learned that this apple tree was planted by Lucy's upstairs neighbour's mother to mark his birth. It was unceremoniously felled this October a day after his 27th birthday ...

[And here's the stump after the contractor's visit]

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