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Residents unite in campaign to save estate trees from the axe

Town Hall says pear tree and two sycamores are the cause of home subsidence

02 April, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Opponents urge Islington Council to ‘come up with a better solution’

PEOPLE living on a council estate in Highbury are trying to convince the Town Hall to abandon plans to cut down three trees – though officers say they are damaging their homes.

Islington wants to press ahead with felling a pear tree and two sycamores on the Highbury Quadrant Estate after being advised that they are causing subsidence to the nearby block of homes.

But residents doubt that assessment and say the faults are caused by the New River which flows underground.

Jane Gallagher, 66, who lives on the estate, said: “I have lived here for many years and love those trees. It would break my heart to see them cut down. The council should come up with a better solution.”

Opponents to the plans gathered for protest pictures this week and wrapped the trees with red and white cloth.

The council said it had hired insurers to carry out an inspection of the building, which had led to the subsidence theory.

Kathrin Sthrader, an­other resident, said: “It’s scandalous Islington Council and the insurers refuse to answer residents’ legitimate questions asking for evidence and explanation.”

She added: “In times of climate change this is no longer acceptable.

“Islington Council’s declaration of Climate Emergency sounds like the perfect example of greenwashing. We don’t need empty words, we need action.”

Green councillor Caroline Russell said: “This last year of staying at home has shown how much we need every tree and every scrap of green space for our mental health and well-being.

“It’s really worrying that people are having to fight so hard to protect this beautiful pear tree from being chopped down.”

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “Removing trees on our estates is always a last resort, and only undertaken when absolutely necessary.

“Full assessments of the Highbury Quadrant Estate have been undertaken by our tree experts, housing repairs teams and structural engineers. In their professional judgement, two trees – a pear and a sycamore – are starting to cause subsidence to part of one block, affecting five homes and the communal landing areas.

“Each tree is assessed individually and our experts will not remove it if another way of managing the issue can be found. As such, we are exploring all the alternative options in these cases, before a final decision is taken.

“Earlier in March, the tree service increased the biodiversity of the Highbury Quadrant Estate by planting eight fruit trees in the grounds, with funds allocated by ward councillors.

“In due course and if the pear and sycamore are felled, we would look to plant suitable replacements at appropriate locations to avoid future damage to homes, in consultation with the estate’s residents.”

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