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Council cutting trees down
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Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2013
Post: #1
15-04-2014 07:43 PM

Hello. I saw this news story about Lewisham Council not planting more trees than it cuts down and it prompted me to write to the council for more info. I was interested to know why, when the council cuts down a street tree, they don't replace it, ie plant a new tree on the same spot. When street trees are cut down the council just either leaves a stump or removes the stump and then tarmacs the area where the tree was. This is slowly leaving what were tree-lined streets denuded. A good example is Sunderland Road in Forest Hill which is slowly being cleared of trees. Anyway, I emailed this to the council at the weekend and they sent me this response. I post it really just in case anyone else cares about the loss of tree cover and interested in the council's position.

The response was: "I have spoken to the Council's Tree Team who inform me that currently they have a limited budget for planting - we do manage some every year, however, the bulk of the budget we have has to be spent on maintenance and upkeep of our tree stock which is very large - we are also responsible for trees within parks, some housing sites, nature reserves and other green areas.

In this regard there are two primary considerations: the support of our local trees which are a valuable asset, and the duty of care we have in relation to health and safety - particularly on the public highway. All street trees are subject to survey and inspection and works are issued in relation to this as we have to prioritise. We do not fell unless we have a need to therefore please be assured that if you are seeing trees coming down that this is happening for good reason - tarmac is laid down post felling to prevent a trip hazard and does not mean we have no intention of reusing the tree pit. Figures relating to tree stock/planting naturally fluctuate annually and variance is created by issues such as stock condition (which is a movable beast so to speak), extreme situations (such as the recent storms), financial avenues are available at any given time to enable planting, and internal/external resources available.

As resources are subject to budget restraint, other avenues have been explored by officers for some time to enable the continuance of tree planting in the borough, these include:

1) Residents can approach their local ward assembly and request money for planting. If a bid is successful the cost of a tree is £240 and residents take the responsibility of watering the tree for a period of two years. Information about your local assembly and when/where it is next due to meet can be found on

2) Residents can bypass the assembly process and make a personal contribution cost is higher as £360 per tree. If residents take the responsibility of watering the tree for a period of two years the cost is £240.

3) Bids for external funding are carried out by local community groups who then work in partnership with the council in relation to locating sites and ordering the trees etc

4) The council applies for monies for national initiatives.

In cases 1), 2) and 3) the tree is a contribution as such and not owned by residents as the tree will fall within the council's tree maintenance programme and be the council's responsibility in terms of pruning etc.

I am sure you will be pleased to know that using all of the routes above this year saw 90 trees planted in Lewisham and we will of course continue to work with the community to do what we can to maintain, preserve and enhance what we have. We are meeting with residential groups regularly to try to raise the profile of tree planting and to work together to keep what we all agree is a valuable asset both now and for the future."

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Posts: 18
Joined: Mar 2012
Post: #2
15-04-2014 08:42 PM

Mr. Mike. Thanks for the posting. Very interesting as I'd also noted that quite a few trees seem to have come down. I wonder what the process is for applying for a new tree. Does it have to be outside your own house or can it be to replace one somewhere else in the street?

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Posts: 1,401
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #3
16-04-2014 06:43 AM

Sometimes they just fall down on people's houses.

"Forest Hill girl 'could have died' after tree crashes through house and lands on her bed."

I don't want trees replaced in my road.

This post was last modified: 16-04-2014 06:44 AM by Sherwood.

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Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #4
16-04-2014 07:27 AM

I don't want trees replaced in my road.

Perhaps you'd like cars banned from your road as well?

Seems like you've a greater chance to be hit by a car than a tree.

This post was last modified: 16-04-2014 07:27 AM by ryananglem.

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Posts: 81
Joined: Sep 2013
Post: #5
16-04-2014 08:56 AM

I don't want trees replaced in my road.

Well I do.

This post was last modified: 16-04-2014 08:56 AM by BringOutTheCranston.

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Posts: 133
Joined: May 2007
Post: #6
16-04-2014 10:50 AM

The responsibility for watering the tree for a period of two years is an interesting point.

If it was outside your home then you could easily chuck a couple of buckets of water around the base as and when needed - but if it's some distance away would you still cart the water to it? Or would you hope that someone else would keep an eye on it?

Well I guess if you've just coughed up £240 then you'd make sure it was kept watered eh?

Still, I think it's worth the potential inconvenience - a tree lined road in blossum is a sight to behold.

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Posts: 557
Joined: May 2010
Post: #7
16-04-2014 12:49 PM

All of which begs the question how they select trees for removal. Not necessarily on size, age or condition as far as I can see.
I posted a while back about the wanton destruction and almost total lopping of trees on Trilby Road including seriously lopping some of the cherry trees which seemed completely unnecessary. Whist some were replaced others were not. I wonder if it is based on pressure from Insurance companies and claims for subsidence?

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Posts: 147
Joined: Mar 2008
Post: #8
19-04-2014 09:09 AM

And if you go the private contribution route, can you select the type of tree yourself?

And as the maintenance and ownership pass to Lewisham, do they tell you if/when/why they decide to chop it down.

And can you request a tree where no tree was before?

My bit of Stanstead Road near the Jenner could do with a few nice oaks. Laugh

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Posts: 371
Joined: Dec 2005
Post: #9
19-04-2014 05:12 PM

There's a free 'Trees in the City' one-day conference next weekend (Saturday 26 April 2014) organised by the Brockley Society at the Lewisham College building on Lewisham Way:

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Posts: 39
Joined: Mar 2014
Post: #10
23-04-2014 06:26 PM

There's a tree in my neighbour's front garden which is causing a lot of damage to our dividing wall which is in danger of falling down. As we are in a conservation area we have to apply to the council for permission to remove the tree, we also have to provide a structural engineers report confirming the damage, all of which will cost an arm and a leg. Will the council take responsibility for the wall injuring or killing someone when it does fall down as we are not able to pay their ridiculous charges.

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Posts: 366
Joined: May 2005
Post: #11
23-04-2014 07:46 PM


If you have subsidence cover on your insurance you should make a claim. As you rightly say, the fees for surveying and monitoring this type of situation costs a fortune so you could be far better off by going down the insurance route, which would only cost you your £1000 excess.

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Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2013
Post: #12
01-05-2014 08:50 PM

Trees for cities do plant trees and maintain them but i'm not sure how they pick areas to plant in.

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Posts: 531
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #13
01-12-2014 05:35 PM

Very large, mature horse chestnut felled in Forestholme Close. Thanks Lewisham

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Posts: 557
Joined: May 2010
Post: #14
01-12-2014 07:51 PM

Orc work again.

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Posts: 285
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #15
01-12-2014 11:40 PM

My neighbours recently had a large horse chestnut removed. Sadly, although it looked reasonably healthy, it had honey fungus (one sign is that even though it has leaves on its lower branches, on its crown the very top twigs are bare). The tree surgeon said that there are quite a few chestnuts in the area which are infected - and there is a risk that a badly damaged tree (no fruit for a few years) will topple. That horse chestnut might have been one of the infected ones?

I will miss the gentle dappling of the sun through the leaves in the summer... but not at the expense of it crashing through my bedroom.

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Posts: 531
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #16
02-12-2014 11:14 AM

I'm no expert but it doesn't sound like it had Honey Fungus Disease. It is always fully leaved and and fruits each year. It almost certainly had a leaf miner infection but as I understand it that rarely kills a tree.

I will call Lewisham to find out what the issue was but sadly it seems to me like a case of a tree being left unmanaged that they decided was easier/cheaper to remove than manage.

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Posts: 3,244
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #17
02-12-2014 01:42 PM

Looking at StreetView it looks like an excellent specimen which must have been there longer than the surrounding houses.

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Posts: 531
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #18
02-12-2014 10:14 PM

I know today was pretty miserable in terms of weather but that link Michael just sad the street looked today without that tree. The character of the close really has been altered by the loss of the tree. I hope Lewisham will properly remove the large stump they've left and work with the residents to replace it with something. I called them earlier today but call centre couldn't get through to the tree people and I was told I'd be called back...not holding my breath.

The houses in Forestholme Close were built in 1969. I'd sort of assumed it was planted during the build but seeing the thickness of the remaining stump it may have been older.

If anyone on here has followed through any of the options listed earlier on the thread for having a new tree planted I'd be grateful to hear your advice.

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Posts: 3,244
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #19
02-12-2014 11:28 PM

It was probably a mature tree in 1969, hence the curve in the road.

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Posts: 620
Joined: Dec 2010
Post: #20
08-12-2014 08:21 PM

I'm sure it was older than the houses.
We are also residents on Forestholme close and are gutted by the loss of the tree, It was beautiful and the place just looks barren without it.
There was no notice on it, no warning of the impending chop.
And as our neighbour said all thats left is an unsightly stumpThumbdownThumbdownThumbdown

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