Not sure if anyone else has noticed this, but the trees on Tower Bridge Road by the Bermondsey Square development are being suffocated by the new buildings and scaffolding. I am also quite certain that two of these trees have disappeared. The two trees that remain seem to have very little room left to survive and grow.
Can the developers just remove trees without consultation and do they not have a duty to replant any of these if they are damaged in the building process?
Incidentally, not sure if the council did this... A tree near the Bermondsey Street tennis courts was knocked down after it lost a large branch during one of the storms in Feb this year. Someone has taken some artistist liberty and turned the trunk into a seat. (i like it!) V nice! I did however, think it was a bit drastic for the council to take the whole tree down because of a single branch...
Does anyone know if there is someone at Southwark Council that deals with the trees that I can write to?
In the same way as a building can be licensed, a tree can be subject to a Tree Preservation Order ('TPO').
In the event of a TPO being in place, the owner of a tree is required to consult the council's tree officer prior to pruning/felling.
In the event of a tree being in a conservation area, but not having a TPO, then application has to be made to the council's tree officer prior to pruning or felling in order for a decision to be made on such an order.
But also be aware that plane trees are very resilient. They are grown in London as they are resistant to pollution and will survive in places where many other trees would not. Also they grow remarkably quickly. The trees outside my house on Grange Road are from a post-war planting.
Whilst travelling south on a 343 bus this Thursday, I overheard 3 people (not sure if they were from Southwark Council or prospective E&C regen developers) remarking on how much better the Walworth Road/Heygate St. junction would look once all the trees had been replaced. Reason for replacement? Aesthetic! These trees are 40 years old and have long term feathered residents but, because they're not evergreen, let's just kill them! Also, the little park on the New Kent Road (the one where Dick Whittington is supposed to have stopped at on his way to visit the Queen) has had many beautiful trees removed. I've heard one excuse that trees which drip sap are corroding the paint on cars. New Kent Road is a red route so car parking is not really an option. Why are we killing trees?
No matter how I struggle and strive, I'll never get out of this world alive. - Little Willys
Street Trees on "Council Land" do not always have TPOs. However if they are in a Conservation area they have equivalent protection.
If you are worried a TPO can be added quite quickly.
There is a British Standard governing trees during construction, including minimum distances from buildings to trees. The tree officer should have received the developers proposals of how to protect the trees, through root screening, and barriers to protect trunk and branches, and it should have been part of the officers report to the Planning Applicaitons Committee. The Council could have also insisted that any trees that fail as a result of the construction process are replaced by equivalent mature trees.
However it is not unknown for the private developments to include proposals for the felling of trees on private land and these are not necessarily highlighted. Indeed they may be hidden away on some of the landscaping plans, which will form part of a box full of papers. It can even be that they are contained within the S106 agreement and defined as "environment improvements" and so not even part of the main planning application.
So speak to the tree officer who will sit within the Planning Department. Ask him about any proposals for the trees, whether within a specific set of arboricultural proposals, or within the landscape plans. Ask about their protection levels, and whether TPOs can be added. Tree officers generally like trees and are often helpful.
If the street trees block daylight flowing to windows of the new buildings there is little that can be done to protect the trees in the longer term. All it needs is for one resident to say that the tree is a nuisance and the lack of light is causing damage to his/her health eg by causing depression or anxiety, and the tree probably have to go, TPO or not.
I am now a bit of an anorak on this topic, so do PM.
I hope you have more success with these than the ones on Spa Road near St James' Church - the council were not very interested in protecting those and simply bowed to the wishes of the developer. You give someone permission to build to the edge of a plot where there are already trees on the pavement, and then when they ask to cut down the trees as they are too close to the planned building, you agree! Simple really.
I managed to save one of the trees on Spa Road near the church, the other three were chopped down. They will now be replaced with more plane trees rather than the Japanese things that were origionally planned.
I did not know that any of these trees were to be destroyed until the first one was cut down owing the planning application (the small signs they put up by the site) referring to their destruction under the heading: "Retention and preservation of mature Plane trees".
Which might be regarded as somewhat misleading.
There should be details in the plans for the construction about how they are supposed to be protecting the trees or whatever they are doing to them. You have to visit the planning office and ask to view them. It will probably take a while. A really nice chap from the Green Party came with me and helped me.
But definately try the Tree Officer. He didn't help me with Spa Road though.