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.
In March 2019 a motion to declare a climate emergency was passed unanimously by Southwark’s Council Assembly and committed Southwark to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Southwark Green Party believes the council's policies on tree planting and management should be driven by this target. To achieve this, it is essential that mature trees are protected and many more trees are planted along our streets, on estates and in parks.
We were disappointed to find that Southwark's draft Tree Management Policy contains no mention of either the 2030 target or the declaration of a climate emergency. The document suggests that trees are something to be managed, while bringing "environmental benefits" and contributing to "local character". But trees can do so much more! Large-scale planting schemes could transform our streets, estates and green spaces, and play a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases and tackling the climate crisis.
So how can Southwark make this happen? Below are some of our proposals.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.
Overshadowing newly planted wildlife areas
Burgess Park is designated as Metropolitan Open Land and a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, and under Southwark Council’s Core Strategy should have protection from inappropriate building. The height of this proposed development raises serious concerns, given its location adjoining the park, and in particular the wildlife area of the park (which has recently been replanted at significant public expense).
The proposed development is sited with insufficient set-back from the boundary of the park and will adversely affect biodiversity, causing damage to tree roots during construction work, impacting on nesting birds and other wildlife, and overshadowing trees and other planting.
Protect mature trees as part of the response to the Climate Emergency
The tree survey commissioned by the applicant and undertaken in June 2016 fails to give sufficient consideration to the ecological value of the trees within or adjacent to the site, which form part of a green corridor linking the park with the church and surrounding streets. In March 2019, Southwark Council Assembly voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency, committing Southwark to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. To meet this target, it is essential that mature trees such as those adjoining 21-23 Parkhouse Street are protected from inappropriate redevelopment.
Breaching the aims of the New Southwark Plan
Southwark Green Party is not opposed in principle to the redevelopment of Burgess Business Park. However, we object to this proposed development, which – at 10 storeys high – fails to preserve the character of the existing area, in breach of the stated aims of the New Southwark Plan. The surrounding conservation area is comprised mainly of two-storey Victorian and Georgian houses, in some cases grade 2-listed, and includes St George's Church (1824).
The proposed development will be obtrusively visible from within Burgess Park, destroying the special character of tranquillity and tree-lined horizons found in the park now.
Southwark Green Party welcomes the increase in social rented housing to 50% in this revised planning application, and recognises that this exceeds the minimum 35% affordable homes under Southwark Council’s planning policies. However, we note that density is higher than the maximum 700 habitable rooms per hectare set out in Southwark’s Residential Design Standards Special Planning Guidance (2015). We are also concerned that the workspaces available for artists to rent will be smaller and more expensive than those in the building currently occupying the site.
The Burgess Business Park site has the potential to deliver much-needed affordable housing and workspace but redevelopment must not come at the expense of the existing community, green spaces and the council’s own Biodiversity Action Plan. We therefore object to this planning application.
Southwark Green Party made a formal response to the planning application for 21-23 Parkhouse Street, SE5 (Planning reference 19/AP/0469) making the above points.
In October 2016, Southwark Green Party responded to Southwark Council's revised plans for the 'old nursery' site in Camberwell New Cemetery.
We are very glad that the council has taken public concerns on board after the previous consultation.The new plans offer good compromise solutions by combining burial spaces with much needed areas of meadow or woodland.Read more