This week Wandsworth Council voted to fell and replace the majority of the 77 trees on Chestnut Avenue which crosses Tooting Common. Those judged “healthy” by the Council will be preserved, following a Labour amendment in favour of saving the healthy trees.
Recent tree surveys had found that many, though not all, of the trees were diseased and a recent Council consultation found that a 74% of residents wanted to see the whole avenue replaced.
However, the issue has divided opinion. The Friends of Tooting Common conducted their own survey which found that a majority opposed the felling of the avenue and an FOTC petition opposing felling gathered 2,800 signatures. Many residents felt strongly that healthy trees should not be removed.
According to Labour Speaker on the Committee, councillor Fleur Anderson; “The Council consultation showed that local people are in favour of preserving the avenue for future generations by replanting. However the Labour Group on the Committee listened to the concerns of those who opposed the felling of healthy trees and amended the proposal to save as many trees as possible. We will continue to fight for the healthy trees to be saved”.
Cllr Anderson added that she had concerns about the way the Council had sought the views of residents. “Wandsworth wasn’t going to consult on this issue until we pushed for public consultation. The consultation was poorly promoted until we pushed for 9,000 letters to be sent to residents and public drop-in sessions to be held on the Common. Wandsworth was going to fell all the trees, including the healthy ones, until we secured a reprieve. This is not a Council that knows how to listen”.
Initial Council surveys indicated that a large number of trees were in good or fair condition. The Council recently downgraded this assessment and now classifies just 5 of the 77 trees as “healthy”.