Justice Cutts throws out footbridge oaks High Court injunction

Katherine Johnston (10 December, 2020)

Southwark Council is reapplying for planning permission to fell the trees in Sydenham Hill Wood

33244(c) Save the Footbridge Oaks campaign

A High Court injunction to remove protestors guarding two trees in Sydenham Hill Wood from being chopped down was rejected by a judge last week.

The injunction, submitted by Southwark Council, was thrown out by Justice Cutts last week, just before planning permission for felling expired on Thursday, December 3. The decision leaves the council’s hands tied until new planning applications are submitted and approved but does not guarantee the oaks’ future in the long term.

Activist Susan Haseldine led a group of volunteers who kept watch over the trees, 24 hours a day, from November 14, refusing to make way for the chainsaws.

Campaigners claim the council had ignored or failed to fully explore other options that would protect the two hundred year old trees while also repairing Cox’s Walk footbridge.

The council says removing the trees is the best and most cost effective solution for repairing the walkway without spiralling costs.

In a statement to the News, a campaign spokesperson said: “Now that the planning permission to fell the trees is lapsing, we hope that instead of reapplying to get the trees down, the council will work with ourselves and other local interested organisations like the London Wildlife Trust, The Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Forum, the Dulwich Estate and the Dulwich Society to find the most cost effective way forward to re-open and repair the bridge and safeguard the trees and protect the nature reserve they are growing in.”

Cllr Catherine Rose, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for environment, leisure and roads, confirmed the council was going ahead with applying for planning permission for the repairs, but gave few further details on what options would be presented in any future consultation.

“We are disappointed that we cannot yet fix the footbridge and reopen a safe route along Cox’s Walk to local people: people with buggies, wheelchair users, those who are less firm on their feet and all of the children who used to follow nature trails along this now closed section of the Green Chain Walk,” she explained in a statement last week.

“But we will of course continue to follow the letter of the law, and work to reaffirm the planning permission required, consulting with local people as part of this work, before taking any further action.”

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