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  THE CAMPAIGN:  Sweet Chestnut Trees
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Latest situation: In November 2003, LUNG was advised by Rose Stepanek (Tree Officer, Merton Council) that the Council had issued new Tree Preservation Orders for 11 of the sweet chestnut trees on the Copse Hill frontage of Atkinson Morley's Hospital and the Wolfson clinic.

It seems that existing TPOs on the AMH site were registered in 1993, and a number of significant trees were not included earlier, but subsequently merited consideration. The Council therefore reviewed all the TPOs on the AMH site and all trees considered to have amenity value were included in the new TPO. They notified the NHS Trust and other people with adjoining properties, since they had a right to object.

The Council subsequently gave the NHS Trust permission to remove 2 of the 11sweet chestnuts subject to them being replaced with semi mature specimens of the same variety within 3 months.  The Trust had the trees cut down in December so they should be replaced by  the end of the current planting season in March 2004. To date this has still not been done. See press coverage

For those who are concerned about any activity around the trees on the site, please contact the following at Merton Council:

Lesley Westphal, Enforcement Officer
lesley.westphal@merton.gov.uk

Tel: 8545 3111

Lou Block, Tree Surgeon
lou.block@merton.gov.uk
Tel: 8545 3826

Please also let LUNG know if you spot any work that you are concerned about. Contacts:

Patricia Keith, LUNG Secretary
Patricia.keith@tesco.net
Tel: 8946 5501

Jane Barnes
LUNG Campaign Co-ordinator
janebarnes@talk21.com
Tel:8879 7153

You can also post messages on the Discussion Forum of this web-site by clicking on the button at the top of this page

Background:

On 17th July 2003, LUNG learned that Merton Council had received a 5-day notification to remove 12/13 sweet chestnut trees along the frontage of the hospital grounds, claiming that the trees were in a dangerous condition.

As the trees were covered by Tree Preservation Orders, the suddenness of this application sent alarm bells ringing and was vigorously contested by LUNG and other local residents' associations and representatives. In addition to registering concern through a flurry of e-mails, over 100 people gathered for a demonstration at Atkinson Morley's Hospital at 4pm on Friday 18th July.
 
 

As a result, Merton Council lodged an application in Court for a temporary injunction to prevent removal of the trees under the 5-day notice. The Council's tree officers who visited the site conceded that the trees were not in the best of health, but considered that, if properly managed, it may be possible to retain them.

The NHS Trust maintains that the proposal to fell the trees is entirely unrelated to its proposals to redevelop the Atkinson Morley site, but feels that the trees should be felled in the interests of public protection, and "has every intention of replacing all trees felled with trees of an appropriate size and species in the same place".

Click here to read an explanation addressed to LUNG Chairman Nick Smith from Catherine McLoughlin, Chair of St. George's Healthcare NHS Trust.  Click here  for an explanation from Andrew Judge, Leader of the Council. Click here for an independent tree arboricultural report by Southern Tree Surgery which has been forwarded to Lief Mortensen. Click here for link to a press release on the Merton Council web-site. Click here for newspaper coverage. Click here to go to the discussion forum to see what members of the community are saying about this matter.

In the meantime, the Council agreed to undertake some essential tree surgery on the two sweet chestnuts which adjoin the footway (between the Hospital and the Wolfson Rehabilitation Unit).

On August 28th 2003, an application was submitted by CBA (a company that conduct tree surveys and tree works) on behalf of St. George's NHS Trust. It was dated 28 August Ref: 03/T1865. These were the same trees that were subject to the 5-day notice of removal in July. Click here for letter of protest from LUNG . Deadline for objections was 18th September.

Objections were addressed to:
Mr. Lief Mortensen
Environment and Regeneration Department, Merton Civic Centre, MORDEN, SURREY SM4 5DX.
Alternatively you can e-mail:  lief.mortensen@merton.gov.uk


Copies of objections were also sent to:
Richard Plume, the Planning Officer dealing with the planning application for the hospital and Firs sites, at the same postal address (email: richard.plume@merton.gov.uk)
and
Catherine McLoughlin, the Chairman of the NHS Trust at St George's Hospital, Blackshaw Road, London SW17
(e-mail catherine.mcloughlin@stgeorges.nhs.uk)

Last updated:22-08-2005