Threatened trees worth £2.6m warrants felling U-turn suggests Barrell

A controversial plan by Wandsworth Council to fell trees on a common should be reviewed after the trees were valued at £2.6 million.

Tooting Bec Common: arboricultural experts brought in by both sides in row over avenue of horse chestnut trees - image: Candida Jones
Tooting Bec Common: arboricultural experts brought in by both sides in row over avenue of horse chestnut trees - image: Candida Jones

The London Borough Council of Wandsworth plans to fell an historic avenue of horse chestnut trees on Tooting Bec Common based on 696 responses to its public consultation.

Barrell Tree Consultancy did a CAVAT valuation last week on behalf of Save Chestnut Avenue Campaign and the value of the trees came out at about £2.6 million.

Barrell found 56 horse chestnut trees greater than 10cm trunk diameter and likely to live longer than five years.

Consultant Jeremy Barrell said: "As far as we are aware, the council has not done any sort of valuation, which seems a little surprising to say the least because of the scale of what is proposed. Our view is that this is new and significant information which was not presented in the original consultation and that, in the public interest, it warrants a review of the proposals."

He added: "I have looked at these trees in detail and I can categorically say that they do not need to be removed for safety reasons.  I have seen no condition on any of the trees that I checked that cannot be managed through normal pruning.  Furthermore, there are no technical reports that I have seen that say anything close to all the trees need to be removed for safety reasons."

The case has called into question council management of trees.

Wandsworth Council said there was no exact date for felling and that the proposal was supported by more than 70% of local residents and unanimously by the council committee. It added that the value of the trees is outweighed by their dangerousness.


A spokesman said: "The decision to replant the avenue has never been about money and applying a notional value to these great trees doesn’t change the fact that they are clearly in structural decline and in some cases have proved to be dangerous to the public. The report does not recognise that we will plant more trees here than there are today which will mature to an even greater CAVAT value while giving the next generation of Tooting residents a magnificent avenue to enjoy like the one the Victorians gave to us. This project was supported by more than 70 per cent of local residents living around the common who agree that we have to face up to the declining health of Chestnut Avenue."


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