WATCH: End to tree-gate as Dixon Clark Court felling starts
- Credit: Polly Hancock
The mature trees at Dixon Clark Court are being cut down this morning.
It marks the end of a long-running saga dating back to 2018, when planning permission was approved for a housing development on the site.
Two separate campaign groups - Extinction Rebellion and Save The Trees - moved in to occupy the space one after another in a bid to save the trees from the axe, but a High Court judge ruled last month protesters at Highbury Corner must leave the site.
Protesters were evicted on February 9, leaving the "little forest" open to tree surgeons.
Islington Council says the private block will help solve the housing crisis by providing a net gain of 25 flats for social rent at the estate off Canonbury Road.
Arboriculturalists went to the site on Thursday and are in the process of cutting down the trees.
Meg Howarth, a community activist who has campaigned to persuade Islington Council to change its mind, told the Gazette: "Our efforts have been worth it - this is a public realm amenity and depriving already existing tenants of their environmental amenity is a shocking thing to do for a council which boasts putting the poorest and most needy of its residents first.
"I'm angry, furious. Getting angrier."
She said other campaigners have called it "terrible" and "heartbreaking".
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Police also went to the Canonbury Road site to investigate reports of anti-social behaviour and a protest.
Officers arrived at about 10.30am, and two women were arrested - one under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 and another under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 and on suspicion of obstructing a High Court officer.
The Met Police said routine patrols will be taking place in the vicinity to "prevent further potential breaches of the peace and to uphold Covid legislation".
Islington Council has been contacted for comment on the felling.
Previously, Islington's housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward said the new council homes are "desperately needed for local families currently living in unsuitable and overcrowded conditions".
He said: "At the same time the project will deliver a minimum of 63 new trees, an extra 100 square metres of communal garden space for residents, and a number of plantings and landscaping improvements designed to improve biodiversity and address air quality issues.
“The council has done everything we can to avoid taking legal and enforcement action, including offering to spend the money we would have spent on legal fees on even more trees.
"It’s truly disheartening that people who claim to care about both trees and homes have forced an outcome resulting in fewer trees for the borough, significant costs, and further delays to building much-needed council homes for local families in desperate need.”