One of the most splendid features of Dulwich is the line of trees along College Road from the park gates to the crossing with the South Circular Road. They were planted over one hundred years ago, on what is now called the manor wastes - which is the verge on the east side of College Road and include three magnificent tulip trees and several other unusual trees including a cut-leaved hornbeam and a chestnut-leaved oak.
Four of these trees are now threatened, and one has already gone, because the neighbouring houses have some subsidence and their insurance companies are demanding the removal of the trees on the grounds that their roots have been found in one case, under the garage, and in another, under the porch. The grounds for believing that these trees are the main cause of the subsidence is not proven, and their value to the community has not been taken into account.
A horse chestnut by the crossing with the South Circular Road has already been removed and now the insurance company are demanding the felling of an enormous plane tree. Similarly, an ash, a tulip tree and a copper beech near the park gates are threatened. Trees are, therefore, being sacrificed unnecessarily.
The consents of the Estate and of Southwark Council are required, as the trees are both on the Dulwich Estate and in a Conservation Area. We have appealed to the Estate to risk incurring costs in order to defend these trees because we consider that residents value them and we have asked Southwark Council to put Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) on them. But the TPOs only protect the trees for six months, in the first place, and these may not be confirmed if Southwark fears being held liable for costs. Both bodies wish to preserve the trees but in the last resort are not prepared to pay to protect them.
The Dulwich Society is therefore asking you to write to John Major, the Chief Executive of the Dulwich Estate, at the Estate office, Gallery Road, SE 21 7AE to ask the Estate Trustees to refuse to fell any trees along that part of College Road, and to write to Councillor Robin Crookshank-Hilton, one of the councillors for Dulwich, who is very interested in trees, at the Members' Room, London Borough of Southwark, Town Hall, Peckham Road, SE 15 8UB, to ask the Council to confirm the Tree Preservation Orders.
Stella Benwell, Chairman, Trees Committee