A Swift Execution

Folks I am sorrier than I can say to have to post this picture. That beautiful lime tree we were talking about yesterday is no more – the photographic proof was taken by Dazza just now. Thank God Stephen got that photo of it (now in the previous post) this morning.

I can only assume that Hadley Mace saw the email they were sent yesterday, became aware that local people had suddenly heard about the tree’s forthcoming demise and decided to act before there was an inconvenient preservation order slapped on it.

I am far angrier than I thought I could be. I am angry that these trees weren’t taken into consideration in the design but I am even angrier that us locals weren’t taken into consideration either.

We were not invited to the consultation – the plans were made available through a brief consultation day available only to a very small section of the community (the people living in the roads directly around the building works, I believe) when this is a development that will affect the whole borough, and we have only found out about it because one of the very few people invited actually thought to let me know (thank you to that individual; no thanks to Hadley Mace.)

HM claim the plans are online – but I can’t find them – if they’re there, they’re well-hidden.

This may seem like a lot of fuss over one tree (though I now fear greatly for the other three fine specimens) but to me this  has bigger implications. It is indicative of a developer who is clearly determined to ride roughshod over a community to get what it wants, and doesn’t give a damn what  it tramples in its greed. The felling was sneaky and underhand and cowardly and it makes me wonder what else to expect from this company. HM could have ensured the tree was carefully uprooted and transplanted – either to somewhere else in the development, which would have been brilliant, or at least elsewhere where, as Ianvisits pointed out yesterday, it could have been sold for a profit and lived out its days in a park or something but no – HM went for annihilation instead.

Hadley Mace, this will not be forgotten.

the attachments to this post:

condemend tree no more dazza
condemend tree no more dazza

39 Comments to “A Swift Execution”

  1. Exactly – hardly detailed plans…

  2. Capability Bowes says:

    Phant, much as I adore you, it was never going to be an option to uproot such an enormous tree. The roots of a tree like that go downwards and outwards as far as the tree itself goes upwards. In addition, many of the “feeder roots” would have been severed during the effort to dig it out, leading to the tree’s slow and painful death after attempts to replant it as it struggled to take in sufficient water to balance the transpiration from the leaves. The only time it would have been technically possible to attempt a transplant would be during the winter months when the tree was leafless and dormant.

    Lime trees are not native to these isles, and as such do not host much wildlife – except possibly huge numbers of aphids. They dont produce nuts or berries, neither do many species of insects life on them.

    But I agree with you when you said yesterday that, for such a wonderful tree, they should have made a concession and built round it. It would have formed a stunning centrepiece for a building. Purely for the fact that human beings delight in a noble tree, it should have been saved.

  3. Mary says:

    - sorry about all of this – and I thought last night we were likely to get some reprieve…….

    anyway – re. what Gordon put on the previous blog about various trees – this is about the two trees he said had been removed from the Dandridge Road area – the Greenwich treemen say:

    “Two trees have been removed from Woolwich Road between the junction of
    Marlton & Chilver Streets. The first was a declining and mainly dead
    mature Hawthorn, the second was a semi mature Hawthorn that was wind
    thrown a few weeks ago and removed. I hope to plant replacements for
    both these trees during the coming winter”.

  4. Mike says:

    Large corporate developers always like to pat themselves on their backs about how environmentally aware and sustainable they are. Can I suggest that a flood of emails to HM’s environmental/sustainability dept, and to whatever government partner agency is looking after the project this week, might raise this issue among higher levels of management? Profit motive is king, but they do try to appease local sensibilities where they can (ie, it’s cheaper to plant big trees than dig down deeper to put a proper swimming pool in the basement).

  5. richstories says:

    OK Capability -appreciate your view-they should have built round it – just want to respond to your line-
    “Lime trees are not native to these isles, and as such do not host much wildlife… etc ”
    Three responses if I may !
    1. They are considered native by many ecologists – I know the purist argument is that “native trees” are those that were established here before the formation of the English Channel …..but it is accepted that “the early inhabitants of Britain after the last ice age also introduced their favourite trees as they moved about” Hazel was widely introduced alongside Lime trees. http://www.webmesh.co.uk/nativetrees.htm

    2. If they provide a home for bees, aphids and ants that a good range of insects for me – time is too short today for me to work out the food chain- but I beieve these support a range of other species??

    3. – Ok – no nuts on the Lime I grant you – but The Lime tree like other species helps to mitigate airborne pollution and its impacts on health in particular (breathe deeply on Blackwall Ave and Woolwich Road). I am thinking of Carbon dioxide gases and the particulates (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3)
    Elsewhere on TGP comments have been made on the lack of car parking on the Greenwich Square (sic) development – I for one do not find that a dis-benefit in an area with high stats for asthma and other respiratory diseases

    I think we can agree they should not have chopped down the trees- and unless we can get a retrospective TPO on any of the trees (eg 2 Hawthorns growing further east) – I feel the next challenge might be to to get a comprehensive agreement on integrating appropriate trees early on in the development phases and paying for the upkeep of some large (eg 25 year old specimens- see http://www.barcham.co.uk/the-big-tree-plant – although they may be hard to establish and will need a lot of watering -

  6. richstories says:

    Mike- for info

    1. The development is a partnership between NHS, Greenwich Council and L&Q (london and Quadrant)

    2. In response to my email the developer has stated
    ” In brief the trees you refer to in your email need to be removed in order to accommodate the approved project that Hadley Mace is obligated to deliver for the Greater London Authority (formally the Homes and Community Agency).

    However a comprehensive landscaping scheme is proposed as part of the redevelopment which includes the introduction of a range of different landscape treatments throughout the site. I trust that this answers your question.”

    3. It seems from their website they (Hadley Mace) are
    members of the UK Green Building Council – see http://www.hadleypropertygroup.com/html/Sustainability_9.html

  7. Mary says:

    Rich – the list of partners you should include the renamed Homes and Communities Agency who were/are the landowners and who commissioned Hadley Mace. Beyond that I agree I should know more detail – and I also agree that there are a whole lot of opportunities I missed around that tree and a lot of other issues as well. I’m not going to make excuses – and I’m sorry I didn’t get onto to it quicker. It really needed to be taken up way back – and I know that there were people talking to the original developer about trees then.

  8. Otter says:

    The planning application for this development was submitted in 2008 (ref 08/0688/F) and was approved in March 2009. The Environmental Statement: Non-technical Summary includes two plans for the corner of the site: one (Fig6 Bid design) appears to retain the departed tree and two other existing trees on Woolwich Road and adds quite a few new; the other (Fig7 Revised Proposals) shows the building line moved north, closer to Woolwich Road with no new trees and none of the old surviving, though quite a lot were proposed for the new square within the development. I assume it is this second scheme which was approved. However, in the Environmental Statement vol2 one of a series of illustrations seems to show the departed tree in place (View 8). Oddly, there seem to be no detailed plans on line and no indication of who the designers were. The original approval carried 32 conditions and there was a flurry of applications for approval of responses to some of these earlier this year. None of these involved landscape matters.

  9. Otter says:

    Just tried the link Adam gave. If you click ‘gallery’ on that you get a couple more illustrations. I don’t think they will cheer anyone up.

  10. Earlswood says:

    What a big shame! What Woolwich Road and the eastern parts of Trafalgar Road need are more trees.

  11. Mary says:

    Look – and thanks Otter for going through all that. I am hopeful of getting a proper report from officers.

    I am trying to find a way through all this.

    I – as the local councillor, like the others – am always very happy to fight for trees when planning consent is being considered – and have often done so. BUT I need information about the trees – and I need support – people MUST write in when the planning application goes in, and turn up to the meeting and put the case forward.

    I was told only yesterday about a group just down the road who have probably saved some trees on a development site – by making a fuss BEFORE the developer gets consent.

    - and I know that things do get changed and slipped in when there are subsequent applications on details. And I am painfully aware that I rarely get round to looking at them.

    I am trying to think of a constructive way through this – for the future – and for other trees on other sites. Go round, make a list – find out NOW what the plans are – and take action.

    - and – finally – I am always happy to refer sites to the Greenwich tree men for new plantings.

  12. Capability Bowes says:

    Cllr Ms Mills:

    “native” plants are generally considered by those of us professionally qualified to know as “any time prior to Roman occupation”.

    Bees would not find a home in a lime tree except in the very unusual circumstance of it being hollow. Aphids, while they do form a colony, do not “find a home” anywhere.

    While I agree with your comment about air pollution, lime trees produce extremely high levels of airborne pollen, so are far more likely to cause problems for hayfever sufferers and people who suffer from respiratory problems than benefit anyone.

    The tree could not have been moved. It should have been incorportated into the development and Greenwich Council, with it so-called “environmental agenda” should a) not have permitted the development if part of the application for planning stipulated its removal and b) should throw the book at the developers. Their “landscaping” is likely to be the usual hotch potch of half-arsed mahonias and other “no-maintenance” shrubs that the Council usually foists on us. None of these shrubs are likely to be native, none are likely to have any environmental benefit whatsoever.

    Does Greenwich Council not have an Arboricultural Officer whose job is to look at all planning applications and identify ones where mature trees are likely to be affected? If so, why have they not done their job properly in this case, letting the developers get away with cutting down a perfectly healthy tree?

    And if not, why not?

  13. Mary says:

    Dear Mr. Bowes – I don’t think I mentioned pollution did I?? Please read what I actually said – that is – and I’m sorry about this – but if people want more control over local sites they need to read the planning application, and turn up at the planning meeting and lobby councillors as to what they want.

    That tree would still be there if local people had got into a discussion with the planners and developers when the site was first being planned.

    I am pretty sure that ONE person and one person only put in objections to trees being cut down when the plans went through.

    Over the years I have been on the Council I have always been available to work with residents and give them advice on how to deal with the planning process. And I have personally argued for the retention of many trees – and often been the only person to turn up to the meeting where the decision was being made.

    I am perfectly happy now – as I have been at any time – to arrange meetings between residents and the Greenwich tree staff – and also with local ecologists, or whoever

    If you read what I suggested above – that residents go round, identify trees they think might be at risk – and I can research any plans for them NOW – so that they can be safeguarded.
    and please don’t attribute things to me that I didn’t say – or hint at – or, I might say, support.

    I know it will be argued that I was elected to sort all this out – but – believe me – residents putting their voices forward – at the right time – is far far more effective. I am not going to say it works every time – but the chances are greatly increased.

  14. Capability Bowes says:

    Cllr Mills

    Please answer my question. Does Greenwich Council have an Arboricultural Officer on its payroll whose job it is to check planning applications like this and monitor what happens to mature trees or not?

    If yes, why has this person patently not done their job in this instance?

    If not, why not?

  15. Mary says:

    There is a tree officer who advises – I don’t know what her advice was on this and I will ask her when she is in the office again.
    I am sorry you feel a need to call me Cllr Mills – I really don’t like titles – but i suppose if you insist on putting me in my place, that’s where I had better be.

  16. richstories says:

    Two things
    1. Just been contacted by local paper (NS) – anyone feeling strongly enough to give a quote about this before it becomes last weeks news ? Please e mail reporter ASAP
    Sarah Trotter

    2. I got a response from Council Exec Offcer on Friday – thanks to Mary – they has offered to set up meeting for anyone concerned with landscape architects and / or developer. I said (not wanting to have meeting on my own !) I need 48 hours to gauge interest ….. If you are interested to come along and also tell your neighbours – please drop me (Calvert Road resident) a line ASAP richs@onetel.com or call 07833 538143

  17. richstories says:

    Reporters e:address didnt appear on previous comment – it is
    Sarah Trotter

  18. richstories says:

    (previous comment ) O this is getting messy- just email me and I’ll pass it on.

  19. Franklin says:


    Your comment/questions to Cllr Mills should have been directed to richstories, who made the three points about native plants, bees etc., and air pollution mitigation in his/her comment on May 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm.

    @Mary (Cllr Mills)

    While I very much appreciate how you make yourself available to and communicate with your local electorate, what is lacking here is any kind of leadership or responsibility on the part of the local councillors.

    At the end of the day, you are the people who have been elected to look after these issues on our behalf. You can’t pass the buck by saying, as you have, that “I can only take action if you all alert me to these issues”!

    We (local residents) don’t have the time or the resources to read every planning application in case there happen to be threats to cut down local trees. We rely on you to do this – which is why the Planning Department includes the local ward councillors among the statutory consultees on all planning applications!

    If you do not have the time or energy to do this job on your own, then perhaps you need to work out a system of sharing responsibility for this with your other two ward councillors?

  20. Mary says:

    Franklin – I agree – and I don’t want to start moaning about anything really – yes – must try harder.

    But – experience tells me I am much more likely to win arguments if it is clear I am putting forward a case for which there is a strong body of resident opinion.

  21. Capability Bowes says:

    Has the “Tree Officer” been approached for an explanation as to why they allowed these developers to chop down a perfectly healthy, mature tree which just happened to be in the way of their new development – and for which the Council presumably gave full planning permission – yet?

    What is the remit of the Tree Officer’s duties? Were they aware of the planning application and the fact that there was a mature and healthy tree standing in the way of the development and which the developers would, given half a chance, chop down immediately, which they seem to have done? Does the Tree Officer liaise at all with the Planning Department, or vice versa? Was the Tree Officer ASLEEP over the last couple of weeks? Did the Tree Officer pay the site a visit? What do we actually pay this individual to do on our behalf and where can I see their job description?

  22. Mary says:

    Mr. Bowes – I do think you should take notice of Rich’s email above, which suggests a meeting for interested parties – and at which these issues can be taken up more fully.
    I look forward to meeting you there.

  23. Capability Bowes says:

    I have, and I have requested the attendance of the Tree Officer. However, I must point out that you said you would be investigating the Tree Officer’s involvement (or apparent lack thereof) and I eagerly await your response as to your findings.

  24. Mary says:

    Mr.Bowes – on consideration – and since you have subsequently moved on to questions about the personal details of a Council officer – I think you should take these issues up elsewhere – perhaps with the Council’s Chief Executive.

  25. Capability Bowes says:

    Cllr Mills

    You evade my questions madam. You said that you would investigate the issue surrounding the Tree Officer and implied that you would let readers of this blog know your findings. You are now passing the buck on this issue. Did you or did you not make enquiry with this member of staff as you promised and if so what did this member of staff have to say?

  26. Otter says:

    CB There have been one-and-a-half working days since you asked your question.

  27. Capability Bowes says:

    I realise that – but now I am being told by Cllr Mills to “take my enquiries elsewhere”.

  28. Capability Bowes says:

    LOL, it now appears that the tree was “diseased” necessitating its complete removal. For “diseased” read “has ivy growing up it and is standing right in the way of our new building”. I would love to see the “expert report” on this and will be approaching the developers with a FOI request for same. As Cllr Mills has told me in no uncertain terms to pursue my enquiries elsewhere, I will also be making an FOI request to Greenwich Council to obtain a copy of the Tree Officer’s Job Description.

    From Richard’s email: “Both council and developer are adamant that nothing can be done to save any of the remaining seven trees”. And there you have it, peeps, right from the horse’s mouth. Our green-minded council and a developer which trumpets its “green credentials” have together sounded the death knell of several mature and completely healthy trees for no other reason than that they are in the wrong place.
    Thanks to Richard for his hard work on this issue.

  29. Mary says:

    Mr. Bowes – again – I’m sorry, and I apologise if I misled you. You really do need to go to ‘the proper channels’ for this sort of information.
    I am glad you appreciate the work Rich has put into this – as I do! I am only sorry my memory of events in 2008 is not as good as I would like.

  30. Capability Bowes says:

    Cllr Mills

    I was under the impression that you had agreed to contact the Tree Officer? Do please correct me if I am wrong.

    Something along the lines of “There is a tree officer who advises – I don’t know what her advice was on this and I will ask her when she is in the office again” gave me the impression that you were actually going to do so. But now you seem to have withdrawn your offer of assistance simply because I decide to pursue the issue along other lines. Lines which you seem unhappy that I have decided to pursue, for some reason.

    I ask again: Are you undertaking to speak to the Tree Officer on behalf of the concerned parties on this issue or are you not? Or were your earlier offers merely lip-service, as they would appear?

    (Phant – I hope you have had a good break. By the time you read all this you are going to have needed it, I think!)

  31. Franklin says:

    Mary –

    I support CB on this. You made a clear undertaking to ask the Tree Officer about her role in this affair when she returned to the office. CB has not asked any questions about the “personal details of a Council officer” (at least not on this forum). I therefore see no reason that you should not ask the Tree Officer about her assessment of the tree in relation to the new development – and I think you have an obligation as our local ward councillor to do so.

    CB –

    It would be helpful if you could explain where you got the information that “it now appears that the tree was “diseased” necessitating its complete removal”. Was this communicated to you? If so, by whom?

  32. Capability Bowes says:

    Yes, Cllr Mills, you did. And now you seem to be backing down from what you have publicly promised to do by insinuating that it is I who have misunderstood you. I have not misunderstood you. You gave a clear undertaking on a public forum to contact the Tree Officer and enquire as to their involvement in this matter and now you are backing down from that publicly-made undertaking.

    Just for the record: I have not requested any personal details about a Council Officer. I have asked for a copy of their job description. Not any details about them as an individual, nor details of their salary but details of their duties and responsibilities as a Council staff member, in order to see whether their job description requires them to liaise with the Planning Department.

    Franklin – this information was provided to me in an email from the developers by Richard – his email address appears in one of his postings if you would care to contact him and ask to see the note from the developer. I have made a FOI request to the developer to see a copy of the arboricultural report that claims the tree was diseased. Needless to say I do not expect them to respond to my request.

  33. Capability Bowes says:

    And answer from Cllr Mills came there none…..

  34. Capability Bowes says:

    And answer from Cllr Mills came there none for the second day, when she is usually all over these pages like a rash

  35. Mary says:

    ok – will try to remember what should be a golden rule about never making promises.
    Anyway I am continuing to try and unearth information about a number of relevant things – but more than that continuing to see what can be done for the future.

    also – not into a blame culture.

  36. Capability Bowes says:

    A new development today. My FOI request to the Council reveals that there is apparently no nominated officer of the Council responsible for liasing with the Planning Department where trees are concerned. The only “Tree Officer” is attached to the Housing Department and their remit lies solely with trees affecting the foundations of residential property. Nothing on their job description to suggest that they need liaise with Planning, although as the hospital site is residential in the main, perhaps this falls under their remit anyway. But no mention of liaison with Planning. Extremely odd, and extremely short sighted.

    Needless to say, no response from the Developer as to the “diseased” status of the tree.

  37. Fiona says:

    I’ve just had a (long) conversation with James Peters in the council about this. He is going to a meeting with the developers tomorrow. On the agenda is a consultation meeting in July about landscaping the new development to which local residents will be invited.

    I asked Peters to ask the developers tomorrow to suspend felling of the remaining trees, so that this can be discussed at the meeting in July. He undertook to do this.