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
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
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
Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry has written to Sadiq Khan about the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and London College of Communication. She draws the Mayor's attention to serious failings in the developer's plan, including the lack of affordable housing, the loss of space for small businesses and the loss of affordable cultural and leisure space - and the serious implications for protected groups of each of these failings. These failings have been raised by local residents in campaigning and through the planning process.
I urge you to take over the application and act as the Local Planning Authority. There is a very strong case for considering this scheme as a strategic and important development with London-wide significance on a number of grounds.Read more
Southwark Green Party pay tribute to the many campaign groups and individuals who have managed to get important concessions in the Elephant & Castle development plan. Residents, traders, students, housing activists and support groups have worked tirelessly and deserve everyone’s thanks.
However, the concessions did not include suitable protections for existing traders, nor is there enough truly affordable housing. As such, we were dismayed to see it voted through.
We firmly believe that those who voted in favour have not paid 'due regard' to the equality impact. The Latin American community, who have made the Elephant a vibrant, welcoming home, will be massively affected. Many small business owners fear they will never recover.
The loss of the Coronet, which brings huge diversity of music to the area, and the inadequate plans to temporarily rehome the bingo hall and bowling alley will contribute to the social cleansing of our BAME communities and loss of facilities for older people.Read more
Left to right: Barbara Pattinson (SE5 Forum), Eleanor Margolies (Southwark Green Party), Magda Devas (Women's Equality Party, Lambeth), Becca Thackray (Green councillor, Herne Hill ward, Lambeth), Jemima Hartshorn (Mums for Lungs)
Eleanor Margolies and Phil Vabulas from Southwark Green Party were delighted to join a study trip to Walthamstow - to walk around the streets that have been transformed by reducing through motor traffic. The walking tour was led by Paul Gasson of Walthamstow Village Residents' Association, and Dan Kelly, a parent and school governor.
The walk took in streets alongside a primary school where children are now able to walk, scoot and play without fear of constant passing traffic, the largest street market in Europe, new squares for community use and thriving parades of small shops.
One of five newly elected Green councillors in Lambeth, Becca Thackray said the visit was: 'A breath of fresh air to see just what can be achieved, in terms of traffic calming, pollution-lowering, urban greening and improving physical, mental and community health'.
Members of the Wells Way Triangle Residents Association have organised informal workshops to help local people look at the plans for redevelopment of Burgess Business Park on Parkhouse Street. The proposal, dubbed 'Camberwell Union' by the developers, would create 505 residential units. The developers claim that with target profit margins of of 17.5% for private residential, 16.67% on commercial, and 6.0% on affordable units - agreed as 'reasonable' by the council's 'viability consultant' - they would not be able to provide 35% affordable housing.Read more
Many people have expressed surprise about the way that Labour councillors have slipped a new sentence into the council’s ‘Area Vision' for Camberwell, Peckham and the Old Kent Road.
The new sentence reads: ‘The Camberwell (Peckham/Old Kent Road) Area Vision will provide as many homes as possible, while respecting the local character of the area. There may be opportunities for taller buildings on key development sites in appropriate locations.’
Wells Way resident Donnachadh McCarthy said the new phrasing 'means we would have ZERO legal grounds to oppose ANY skyscraper in future in Camberwell & Peckham, no matter what the height or where the location'.Read more
This week Southwark Green Party submitted comments to Southwark Council on the planning application under consideration for the Elephant & Castle area. SGP objected to the application on a number of grounds and fear that the application could be another failure by Southwark Council to properly follow their own planning guidelines and consult communities on development in their areas.Read more