‘Chainsaw massacre’ as eight trees cut down at Finsbury Park development
PUBLISHED: 10:28 27 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:28 27 March 2014
Eight lime trees were cut down on Monday against the wishes of the town hall and furious residents.
Islington Council rejected proposals from picture framing company John Jones and developer Spiritbond Finsbury Park in January 2010 to build part seven-storey complex, providing 475 student rooms – which would include removing the trees from Lennox Street, Finsbury Park.
The plans were rejected on the basis that the council wanted affordable housing, but the decision was successfully overturned after an appeal by the two companies. Also set for the site are 15 affordable homes and a shop.
Many of those living nearby attempted to save the trees, with 316 signing a petition, but they were years too late. Several gathered with Islington Green Party members on Monday to protest against the “chainsaw massacre”.
Irma Irsara, a 53-year-old artist who lives on neighbouring Charteris Road, said: “Cutting down these trees that take 100 litres of water a day in a water planed area could cause problems if the rain is bad again next year. There are also two primary schools nearby and half of the children have asthma due to the pollution. These trees help to clear the air.”
In reversing the town hall’s decision on the development, inspector Siân Worden said considering the replacement planting promised she did not consider the removal of the trees would “outweigh the advantages of the proposed development.”
Cllr James Murray, the council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “We rejected the development with the loss of so many mature trees being one of our concerns.”
Martyn Thom, owner of Spiritbond, which owns the site, said they were giving the council £109,000 to pay for the planting of new trees. “As part of the redevelopment, additional land will be gifted to Islington to achieve wider footpaths on Lennox Road and Clifton Terrace,” he added.
Katie Dawson, former Green Party councillor for Highbury West, protested against the felling. She said: “This is a very concrete area and Islington has very little greenery as it is. People need to see trees as much for their mental well-being as for the environment.”
In November, a survey by the national office of statistics revealed that Islington was the unhappiest borough in London with one of reasons cited as lack of green space.
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