The British Maple

Lovely, isn’t it. Shame it isn’t an oak.

Reading between the lines, it seems to me that the crime this beautiful Copper Maple tree that shades the garden at The British Oak has committed is that it isn’t – well, a British Oak. The landlord has applied for permission to fell it, claiming that “The foliage canopy covers the whole seating area of the garden allowing no light into it”. 

Thing is, judging from this photo, taken at 3.00pm last Monday afternoon, that just patently isn’t true. The seating area is clearly in plain sun. His other claim is that the tree attracts pigeons and squirrels, which upset the customers.

NEWSFLASH: Phantom Towers has a surfeit of pigeons and squirrels too, which is quite incredible, since I am not aware of a Copper Maple anywhere nearby.

Peter tells me that far from being ‘upset’, the customers he sees seem to enjoy the wildlife – and even feed them, which probably has rather more of an alluring effect than a tree.

The landlord intends to replace it with a ‘suitable specimen’ but, um, hang on, wouldn’t a sapling eventually have the same shady, pigeony, squirrel-magnet effect as a mature tree? And if he’s hoping to replace it with a British Oak sapling, he’s in trouble – they don’t exist (and the Oak varieties that do exist get BIIIIIIG).

It’s true that maintenance can be pricey – and the pruning that’s been done in the past has been of the somewhat crude variety, which makes it worse in the long run, but this is an important tree in a lovely garden that would be the poorer without it.

Indeed, Peter reckons it’s “one of the most significant trees in The Rectory Field Conservation area and has been loved by generations of users of the British Oak and is fully deserving of a Tree Preservation Order to protect it until a more sympathetic custodian takes over the Pub. This tree requires careful and responsible husbandry when it will continue to bring pleasure and be a valuable environmental asset. For many its loss would be a local tragedy.”

If you agree (or even if you don’t) by all means comment here, but though I will be delighted to know someone reads the blog I can’t guarantee that those comments will actually get to the person who can make a difference.

The email I gave out for Debi Rogers, the Tree Officer, is bouncing back, so my best suggestion for being able to comment is to go to the link at the top of the post and make a public comment there. The reference is 13/1006/TC British Oak, 109 Old Dover Road, SE38SU - and you don’t have long – you need to do it by Tuesday 21st. May 2013.

You could also write to her at:
Planning Department
5th Floor, Woolwich Centre
35 Wellington Street
SE18 6HQ

Everywhere I look we are losing our mature trees – mainly in streets and new developments, to be replaced by pathetic, weedy excuses for trees because they’re less bother. I still mourn the loss of the fabulous limes at what we must now call Greenwich Square. Greenwich – and the entire country is the poorer without them, and I believe that we have got to the stage where each individual needs to be fought for.

the attachments to this post:

maple at the oak
maple at the oak

13 Comments to “The British Maple”

  1. Anna says:

    Do you have an email address for Debi?

  2. Ooops – sorry Anna – the link was broken. I’ve fixed it now, but here it is again:

  3. Capability Bowes says:

    “Tree Officer”????? Can it be that this is an individual who is actually responsible for trees? The non-existence of which I was ranting about very recently?????? If Greenwich Council does have such a post, why did this person not intercede on behalf of the trees on the old Hospital site, and why does Cllr Mills deny (or at least seem unaware of the existence of) this Council Officer?

  4. Richard says:

    Surely the landlord owns the tree. If he/she wants to chop it down what business is it of anyone else? If it was in my back garden I would just have it taken down.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I just emailed and it bounced back!

  6. Hmm- yes, it just did that for me too. I’ll lookin into it.

  7. Capability Wolf says:

    I am truly horrified at the prospect of losing yet ANOTHER tree in this vicinity. I have still not yet recovered from the loss of the five huge lime trees just up from this Maple, on Creek Road, which have been replaced by weedy-looking twigs which will take many years to serve the same ecological purpose as the original trees.

    As for the Tree Officer, in the dealings that I have been unfortunate enough to have with her, I have found her to be completely ineffectual and evasive, particularly in regard to what constitutes criteria for a Tree Preservation Order to be made. Apparently, it boils down to whether the tree is important enough in the Tree Officer’s opinion. So, not much chance for democracy there then.

    However, I feel it is my duty to try and make a case for the Maple in question, so I shall attempt to contact Ms Rogers again to let her know of my opinion, which is to allow this tree to be granted preservation status. The reason that I feel this tree to be important is that it forms part of the local ecology and is a vitally important habitat for wildlife, especially since there have been so many other mature trees lost over the past year or two. I want to see birds and other creatures thriving in this locality, and Greenwich Council needs to realise that it is simply wrong to keep felling so many trees in the borough without sound reasons for doing so.

  8. Laura says:

    You’ve put an extra “.” in the email address which is why it’s bouncing back. Try

  9. Capability Bowes says:

    @ Capability Wolf: An ineffective Council Officer? Surely not?!

  10. Michael says:

    @Richard, Just because a tree is on his property, doesn’t mean he can do what you wants with it.

    And that of course that is why he has had to apply for permission to remove it and why the public gets to express an opinion on his request. Seems right to me.

  11. joe says:

    Agree with the Phantom on this one, we need to protect the trees we have left, especially considering the constant chipping away of green space by developers etc and a massive increase in building work going on in the Borough. With pollution consequently likely to increase even further and much of our wildlife under threat in many different ways, it makes no sense to destroy more trees just because someone doesn’t like a bit of shade.