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Nature vandalism – Lewisham Council must take action now

Alice Roberts
By Alice Roberts
29th February 2024

We were very concerned to learn a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation with protected trees has been trashed in an act which can only be described as nature vandalism.

We have written to Lewisham Council to ask that they take action urgently to enforce against this environment crime, like Greenwich Council did recently following tree felling in New Eltham and Bromley did after the ‘Bromley Tree Massacre‘ in Cator Park. It’s vital boroughs do this or landowners feel they can act with impunity.

CPRE London’s letter is set out below. We have also put local campaigners in contact with journalists and hope this will help generate pressure.

Our letter to Lewisham Council:

We were extremely concerned to hear from local residents that this important protected land has been subject to nature vandalism and fly tipping once again. We are particularly concerned that:

  • the landowner appears intent on degrading the land’s biodiversity to pave the way for future planning applications following a previously unsuccessful application
  • the developer has challenged (in their Local Plan consultation response) the upgrading of the site’s status to Metropolitan SINC proposed for Lewisham’s Local Plan, saying that it does not meet the criteria, while simultaneously destroying the basis of the upgrading.

Please can Lewisham Council:

  • Serve an injunction to halt works; enforce the site-wide TPO / investigate the TPO breech and prosecute crimes committed
  • Take action to force the reinstatement of all trees and habitat at the owner’s cost
  • Reassure us that the action of the owner/ developer will not derail attempts to upgrade the protection of the site through the Local Plan process.

Ultimately we ask that the council works with the local community to purchase the land via a Compulsory Purchase Order, to bring it into public ownership, take it away from these irresponsible developers, protect the biodiversity – one of the most biodiverse areas in central London, and uphold the manifesto commitment of the former Mayor to implement the Railway Children National Park to provide public access to this crucial green space.

I am enclosing a PDF from local campaigners with photos of the latest destruction by the developer to Willow Tree Stable site forming part of The Railway Children Urban National Park. The photos also show the site owner has removed evidence of vegetation that secured its SINC and MOL status in 2013.

  • Please can you let me know what action the council is taking in relation to this?