Suburb residents unite in battle to save historic oak tree

PUBLISHED: 18:29 15 October 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

Hearts of oak on the Suburb

Hearts of oak on the Suburb

By Katy Davies RESIDENTS are campaigning to save a magnificent oak tree in Hampstead Garden Suburb from the axe. The tree in Reynolds Close was given a temporary reprieve by councillors last month when a decision on its future was delayed because plannin

By Katy Davies

RESIDENTS are campaigning to save a magnificent oak tree in Hampstead Garden Suburb from the axe.

The tree in Reynolds Close was given a temporary reprieve by councillors last month when a decision on its future was delayed because planning documents weren't in order.

The application to chop it down has been made by an insurance firm claiming it is causing subsidence to the conservatory of a house on the street.

But residents deny the claim and are calling on councillors to protect the huge tree which can be seen from across the Suburb.

Campaigner Larry Finlay said: "The council's report doesn't indisputably prove the oak is the cause of subsidence.

"We have been impressed that Barnet has led the way in some environmental issues, being the first council in London to introduce compulsory recycling for example.

"In this age of increasing environmental awareness, surely this type of casual tree felling is a major retrograde step? If we don't all make a stand now, where will it end? It would be desperately sad if the only substantial mature trees left are those in parks."

The applicant is OCA limited - tree specialists who are regularly hired by insurance companies.

The company has been involved in applications in Hampstead Garden Suburb previously.

Recently the company applied to remove a willow on Denman Drive on the grounds of subsidence but that was thrown out by Barnet Council.

But many have been left frustrated by the law on tree removal which limits the council on how often they can throw out such cases.

If insurers can prove subsidence by a tree - the council cannot legally oppose its removal, despite the fact the tree may have been there for years before the property was built.

A change in this to offer more protection to trees is supported by the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, the area's local conservation organisation.

Trust manager Jane Blackburn said: "This is a very similar situation to many others we see across the Suburb.

"This is a very fine tree of environmental and ecological value. Unfortunately, if it is demonstrated it is causing damage to buildings it makes it very difficult to resist felling. What is needed is a change in law to recognise the value of trees."

The Ham&High contacted OCA but a spokesman said they do not comment on individual cases.

A decision will be made on the oak at a planning meeting at Barnet Council on Tuesday.

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