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To: Southwark Council

Save the Cox's Walk Footbridge Oak Trees

Place Tree Preservation Orders on the two oaks they plan to cut down.

Why is this important?

**4 July 2022** Exciting moment: Southwark Council will reveal its new repair design that saves the oaks at online meeting on 14th July. Scroll down to the Updates section for more details.

These two, hundred-year old oak trees stand on each side of the west end of Cox's Walk Footbridge, Sydenham Hill Woods. They are like sentinels, welcoming and guarding the bridge, and their magnificent canopy dapples the bridge in green shade. But these trees are due to be felled this autumn, just to make life easy for Southwark Council when they carry out repairs to the footbridge. That would be a loss of hundreds of years of life for these beautiful, healthy oaks and the life they support.
• Southwark Council is trying to blame these trees for damage to the bridge but the engineer’s assessment states it is lateral pressure from the soil on both sides of the bridge that is the problem.
• There has been some damage to the brickwork by roots, but ivy roots not oak roots.
• The abutment walls that need repair were rebuilt in the 1980s (exact date unknown) without needing to remove the trees, so we know it can be done.
• No assessment appears to have been done of the impact on the stability of the slope and the water table removal of these trees will have.
• Oak trees have a rich biodiversity, supporting hundreds of insect species, birds, fungi, mosses and lichens.
Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich, London, UK

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL




2022-07-04 15:35:46 +0100

Exciting moment: Southwark Council has organised an online meeting to reveal its latest design for the repair of the footbridge that retains the oaks. This is what we have been campaigning for, for the past three years! It may also be our only opportunity to see and comment on the plans.

The meeting is on Thursday 14th July, 8pm and pre-registration is required. You can register here

2022-04-09 17:20:31 +0100

Southwark Highways has put an outline proposal for a repair to the footbridge that retains the oaks on its webpage (scroll down to the section marked 'Update'.

It will be consulting on the details in May/June, with a view to starting the repair works in the autumn, after the end of the bird breeding season.

2021-03-28 12:14:12 +0100

Welcome news at last from Southwark Highways on their Cox’s Walk Footbridge repair page:

“We recognise the considerable time and effort made by the campaigners in working to find a solution that will fulfil the objectives of repairing the bridge whilst retaining the trees. Consequently, we'll be tasking our new structures consultant to review all available options, including those previously discounted on technical and financial grounds, such as a preliminary design submitted by a local campaign group. This consultants’ brief will identify any means of reopening an accessible walkway over the gully, which will enable the two oak trees adjacent to the footbridge, to stay in place.

The intention is to engage with the public once the consultant has completed this work.”

2021-02-05 12:20:21 +0000

Please send your support for TPO 605

There has been no word from Highways since the planning permission to fell the trees was refused last month. We think it is quite likely that they will object to the Tree Protection Order (TPO) and submit another application to get the oak trees removed. It would therefore be really useful if you could email [email protected] to express your support for TPO 605. Comments and objections have to be received by 5pm on Tuesday 16th February 2021. Thank you!

2021-01-21 22:18:05 +0000

Permission to fell the oaks refused!

On Tuesday 19th January, Southwark Planning Department decided not to allow Highways application for the oaks trees to be felled. Instead they issued a provisional group Tree Protection Order (TPO), covering Cox’s Walk and Sydenham Hill Wood.

This is tremendously important and hopeful news, showing that there are people working for the Borough who recognise the importance of saving trees and our green spaces wherever possible. It is also a tribute to the huge and continuing community support for keeping the footbridge oaks: 177 objections to the application and 6,692 signatures on our petition (now 6,699).

This is what we hoped for: Council and Community working together for our shared concerns in mitigating climate change, promoting biodiversity and protecting the green spaces that sustain us.

2020-12-18 17:03:15 +0000

The new planning application number is 20/AP/3632, accessed from the Southwark Planning new online register Comments can be made until 10th January 2021. Please add your voice to the objections!

2020-12-18 16:54:55 +0000

Southwark Council has made a new planning application for: “2 x Mature Oaks - Fell due to damage and obstruction to bridge repair”
We oppose it on these grounds:
• No evidence has been provided that the tree roots have caused damage to the bridge.
• The trees are only an obstruction to the current repair design. There are alternative ways of repairing the bridge which do not require their removal and which would have a lower impact on the nature reserve altogether.
• The value of the trees in terms of amenity (CAVAT value £242,000), biodiversity, carbon capture and sequestration, air purification etc has not been taken into account.
• The effect of the removal of the trees on the stability of the slope has not been properly assessed, and is likely to cause further problems with the bridge.
• Taking into account the above two issues, the removal of the trees would not be the best use of public money to achieve the long term repair of the bridge that the Council says it wants.

2020-12-05 13:05:54 +0000

The Cox’s Walk Footbridge Oaks are still standing! After another rollercoaster week, the Council’s planning permission to fell them lapsed on Thursday 3rd December. At the moment they cannot legally be cut down. Excellent result for National Tree Week!

2020-11-26 21:35:20 +0000

Southwark Council have applied to the High Court for an injunction to prevent protesters getting in the way of felling the trees. We are contesting this case. The planning permission lapses after Wednesday 2nd December. Can we delay them until then?

2020-11-23 16:21:34 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2020-11-22 10:18:51 +0000
What a week! I thought my next post would say that the trees have been felled. But they are still standing! Some stalwart and committed campaigners are on site at all times. On Monday 16th, when the contractors, they stood under the oaks and refused to move. The contractors then left. We know they will be back but we don't know when or how. The campaigners are talking to everyone and have garnered over 1,500 new signatures since the felling notices went on the trees.

In the meantime, we have had items in the South London Press, Southwark News and News From Crystal Palace and on BBC London News. And check out Twitter @SaveOaks.

Will the Council respond positively now? We are pushing for them to take down the rotten timbers and fix a temporary balustrade and reopen the bridge. We then want 'cooperative negotiation' to find the most cost effective way of implementing our design.

2020-11-10 14:12:29 +0000

Very sad to have to tell you that felling notices have been placed on the oaks, for the week commencing 16th November.
The case for taking them down has not been made. They ignored our arboriculturist report, our engineers answers to their questions, our survey of over 160 users of the bridge, our request for an interim repair. At no point did they approach all the work we had done with support from the community crowdfunder, in a positive way and say ‘let’s see how we can make this work.’
Why do Councils persist in resisting community input rather than working with them?

2020-11-02 13:11:12 +0000

The Council has now sent an email to all who had written to them to express a concern over the loss of the trees. We disagree with the Council’s summary which persists in making many baseless assertions that we have already provided answers to. However, most importantly, the email suggests that a decision has now been taken to proceed with the Council's initial proposal and cut down the oaks but with the offer of 'two large oak specimens' to replace them at the top of Cox's Walk.

This is a difficult moment for the Campaign, and it would be very useful to have a steer from you about how we should proceed. Please send your comments on this and whether you would be interested in participating in a Zoom discussion, as soon as possible to [email protected].

Please see our Facebook page for more information and links to documents.

2020-10-29 18:43:45 +0000

We have emailed the Council to ask for the rotten timbers on the bridge to be removed immediately, so that the bridge can be reopened. This would mean a temporary loss of the timber superstructure but it would allow time for them to work with us for a cost-effective repair that retains the oaks, keeps the bridge and reinstates the timbers.

At a time when Councils are strapped for cash because of Covid-19, and TfL, who are a major funder of Southwark Highways, are having to seek government bailouts, spending over a quarter of a million pounds on a woodland footbridge seems wrong. We have therefore asked Southwark to put this on hold and only carry out the work necessary to reopen the bridge, until public finances are healthier.

2020-09-28 10:16:13 +0100

Regrettably, I now have to report that the Council has paid lip-service to its commitment for an assessment and meeting, but there is no sign of any continuing or meaningful engagement. It’s beginning to look as if it might stick with the cheaper, less robust original scheme and cut down the trees.

Cllr Andy Simmons also complained that ‘the comments received from the campaign group are a relatively small minority of the views that I’ve received overall..’ as if a group that has the backing all of you who signed this petition and crowdfunded for a design to retain bridge and trees, count as just one voice. He obviously wants to hear from more of us! Please, could as many of you as possible email or tweet Cllrs Andy Simmons and Catherine Rose to politely show them that the majority want to save the oaks? Thank you.

[email protected] @andysimmons10 [email protected] @RoseCllr