We're very concerned to learn of a planning application made by Southwark Council for permission to chop down four mature poplar trees and eight ash and maple trees in Bessemer Grange Nature Garden (also known as Nairne Grove Nature Garden).
This small, biodiverse garden is used by pupils from Bessemer Grange Primary, as well as for Forest School community activities. The school's catchment area includes three large council estates - Champion Hill, Denmark Hill and Dog Kennel Hill. Many of the pupils live in flats without gardens. For them, the chance to learn about nature in a woodland setting is rare and highly valued.
This photo from the school's website shows a Year 1 class in the garden.
The trees are covered by Tree Protection Orders and the garden is listed as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation by Southwark Council, as well as being in a 'Critical Drainage Area'.
The reason that the tree felling is being considered is that there is subsidence to a neighbouring house. The structural engineer's report notes:
It is well known that councils are under severe pressure to avoid litigation from insurers who may find it convenient to blame trees for soil movement. But due to climate change, all homes built on London clay are now affected by increased 'seasonal variations in moisture content': more winter rain, more summer heat.
Urban trees help slow climate change by soaking up carbon. But they are also vital in helping cities adapt to (already occuring) climate change: their roots soak up winter rain and stabilise soil; their shade reduces overheating in summer.
It would therefore be very unwise to cut down these trees without a very good reason in a climate crisis. It might well make the subsidence to the neighbouring house worse, as well as reducing the beauty and biodiversity of the nature garden.
Bizarrely, the council is proposing to cut down more trees than the insurers have asked for. An independent arboricultural report for the owner's insurers (supplied with the planning application) suggests felling two poplar trees and simply pruning two smaller ones that are further away. So why is the council asking for permission to fell all four? Is this a simple error or a reckless choice intended to save on future maintenance costs?
(Below, a screenshot from the arboricultural report, giving height of the four poplar trees (19m, 15 m) and their distance from the house (17.3m and 22m), with the recommendation to prune the small trees, rather than fell.
We hope the council will look at this application in the light of the climate emergency, taking advice from its own Tree Officers and Ecology Officers, and from its Climate Change Programme Director, and reject this application. We will be commenting here https://planning.southwark.gov.uk/online-applications
Search for application 20/AP/0540 | TG1
Interview with Claire Sheppard, Green Party candidate and community campaigner
Can you tell us a bit about Nunhead Knocks?
It was started by a handful of folks local to Nunhead who had skills in tech, community connections and backgrounds in organising who wanted to find a way to help the many people in our neighbourhood who have been affected by the virus.
How did you get the idea for Nunhead Knocks? Is it just you?Read more
Southwark Green Party objects to the proposal by Dolphin Living for the old Hunnex site at 35-39 Parkhouse Street, in Camberwell, just south of Burgess Park. This is for a 6-10 storey building with 100 flats.
This is one of several applications for tall buildings around the perimeter of Burgess Park, risking permanent destruction of the habitat and character of the park. (We have previously objected to the earlier Burgess Business Park proposal.) It is important not to set a precedent by approving this application.
Our key objections to this application are:
1) the buildings are too tall, in breach of Southwark Council policy
Hello! I’m Claire Sheppard and I want to represent Camberwell and Peckham as your MP. I think it’s time for a change and for real action on the climate emergency.
Peckham has been my home for nearly 20 years. It’s where my husband and I chose to get married, start our own businesses and raise our family. I’m a local campaigner, volunteer and activist with a deep love and respect for the area.
Some of the community just got here, some have been here all their lives. What we all have in common is that we want to live in an area where the community is strong and united – and all of us want the best for each other.Read more
New opportunities to make a Green vote count in Southwark
Uniting to Remain, Lib Dems step aside for the Green Party's co-leader Jonathan Bartley in Dulwich & West Norwood, while Hannah Graham of the Green Party steps aside in Bermondsey & Old Southwark.
The co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, has been selected to fight the seat of Dulwich and West Norwood in South London at the general election. The other Remain parties, the Lib Dems and Change UK, will not contest the seat as part of the 'Remain Alliance' organised by Unite to Remain. Voters in this constiituency have the opportunity to make history and elect London’s first Green Party MP.
The constituency of Dulwich & West Norwood is shared between the boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth. Both boroughs had high votes for 'Remain' in the 2016 referendum, with Lambeth polling at 78% and Southwark at 73%.Read more
Protect our trees – and plant many more
Most of us feel a deep sense of loss when trees we're used to seeing every day are felled. Unfortunately, that's an experience all too familiar in Southwark, where many trees have come down over the past decade. The council's own figures show a net loss of around 1,400 street trees between 2013 and 2017 alone.
Southwark Transport Plan Annual Monitoring Report, 2016/17, p.45
Southwark Green Party has long campaigned to protect trees and green spaces. We welcomed the chance to reply to Southwark Council's recent consultation on its vision and objectives for tree management. The consultation has now closed, but you can read the draft Tree Management Policy on the council's consultation hub.Read more
Southwark Green Party has submitted an objection to the planning application to build a new stadium on Metropolitan Open Land on Green Dale. This Site of Importance for Nature Conservation is in East Dulwich, roughly between the large branch of Sainsbury's on busy Dog Kennel Hill and the pedestrian and cycle-path between Champion Hill and Dulwich that's also - very confusingly - known as Green Dale.
Part of Green Dale. Photo: Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Woo
We support Dulwich Hamlet Football Club as a pillar of the local community, and celebrate its special character as inclusive and socially progressive. But we are not convinced that this plan is any more sustainable for the club than previous ones, and would rather see investment in the clubhouse, bar and sports centre to help support the club.Read more
The proposed expansion of Heathrow and London City airports would be an environmental catastrophe. It would mean more plane noise, more pollution, more congestion on our roads. Increases in greenhouse gas emissions would make it impossible for the UK to meet even its current, inadequate commitments to address the crisis of the global rise in temperatures.
The construction of a third runway at Heathrow (in effect, a new airport adjoining the existing one) would have the most damaging environmental impact of any new infrastructure project in Britain. It will result in 750 more flights a day (280,000 a year); the destruction of around 750 homes; two new car parks with 24,000 and 22,000 parking spaces; diversions of the M25 and A4; the rerouting of local rivers; and loss of habitats at wildlife areas including Staines Moor, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Increased disturbance from flight paths will impact Southwark residents, along with millions of people across London, including many who are not currently overflown.Read more
View of St George's Church from Burgess Park
We have objected to the 10-storey development proposed for Burgess Business Park in Camberwell primarily because it is too tall, and will overshadow Burgess Park, harming the new wildlife area and the enjoyment of the park by local people. Burgess Park is both ecologically important and a vital breathing space for people living in densely built up areas of Southwark along the Walworth Road and Old Kent Road. This is only one of several schemes planned for Parkhouse Street. If passed, this development would set a precedent for other inappropriately tall buildings along the boundary of the park.Read more
In March 2019, Southwark Council passed a motion to ‘do all it can to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030’. Transport is the biggest single source of carbon emissions in our borough, so we need real leadership on transport to change the way we get around and deliver goods.
Here are some proposals from Southwark Green Party for the kind of interventions we will need to meet the target of going climate neutral by 2030.
1. Green our streets
Southwark's own reports show that the borough has lost 1,000 street trees in the last ten years.Read more