At the end of last year ELF was contacted by the Friends of Tooting Common about the London Borough of Wandsworth (LBW) intentions to fell a whole avenue of trees on Tooting Common, a sweet chestnut avenue planted some 150 years ago, known as Chestnut Avenue. LBW had been granted Heritage Lottery funding to restore the common which included felling the avenue and replacing them with young trees. The Council public consultation in September regarding the fate of Chestnut Avenue received 650 responses, the majority favourable to the Council’s proposals to fell and replant.
Friends of Tooting Common have for some time been campaigning against the plans on the basis that it is unnecessary to fell all the trees at the same time and that a gradual replanting scheme would be far less damaging to the natural and amenity environment. They launched their own petition which so far has received more than 4,700 signatures.
ELF wanted to explore whether there could be grounds for a challenge to the public consultation on the grounds of fairness as the Friends had identified many older people who had been excluded and we wanted to see if the public consultation stood up to public law scrutiny.
Charles Streeten at FTB agreed to advise ELF and the Friends. While Charles thought that there would be no grounds to challenge the consultation, he did advise that the group should keep up the political pressure, and that a letter to the Heritage Lottery Fund, could create some conversation value with them. Their campaign continues.