The independent London newspaper

No reason was given for destruction tree

23 January, 2020

• WHAT is the point of Camden planning?

A mature, sound, lime tree in the garden behind, and shared by residents of Gilling Court and Holmefield Court, was felled on January 16 before Camden planning had published any decision on Gilling Court’s application for permission to fell, despite no reason being given to fell and despite numerous objections lodged.

The contractors claimed they were free to fell because planning had failed to notify them of the objections within a six-week period.

The application to destroy the tree was lodged with planning on December 2. Flat owners and residents in the two blocks were not notified, and Camden only pinned a notice on the tree. Concern spread by word of mouth and numerous complaints were lodged with planning ahead of the permitted date January 6.

The application to fell acknowledged the tree was not a safety risk, was not diseased, and was not causing damage to property. No reason was given for destruction.

On January 16 when the contractors arrived on site the planning website still showed the application to fell as unresolved . Residents from both blocks tried to stop the contractors from felling but the contract team leader maintained they were legally entitled to fell.

He was handed a print-out of the website showing the large number of objections. But he proceeded to destroy the tree, using industrial power tools which it would have been highly dangerous for residents to try to resist.

Meanwhile residents repeatedly phoned Camden and spoke variously with planning officers who promised the tree officer named for the case would return calls. By the end of the day, the tree had been felled and the tree officer had not returned calls.

By the end of the week the tree officer had still not returned calls to explain why he had permitted a mature, sound, tree to be felled.

On the face of things, Camden and its tree officer have failed dismally to protect a sound, mature tree from wanton destruction.

The fact that the case file contains obvious anomalies (some objections wrongly duplicated and previously others clearly relating to different cases) adds to evidence of incompetent handling by Camden Planning.



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