Anger is blossoming in Wimbledon, as residents vow to protect a “superb” magnolia tree which may be facing the chop.
When a planning application was submitted to knock down a bungalow on Dora Road and replace it with two semi-detached homes, neighbours believed the large, 50-year-old magnolia tree on the property’s site would be protected by its Tree Preservation Order (TPO).
However, the TPO rules allow for a tree to be removed if an appropriate replacement is found as soon as possible, and in this case two semi-mature cherry trees have been deemed acceptable replacements if the planning application goes ahead.
Diana Elderton, who has lived on Dora Road for 30 years, disagrees.
The magnolia tree in bloom
She said: “What this means is that really not a single tree in the borough is safe. Whether or not it is protected, it can be bulldozed. I think it is outrageous.
“They are riding rough shod over the protection order and not preserving that tree. Any tree can be replaced with a much smaller tree, a much less lovely tree, a tree that will take another half century to reach its full blossom as this has done.
“It’s a perfect specimen of a magnolia. It’s a rare and beautiful tree. If that tree was in Kew, it would be a protected specimen. It really is superb.”
Former school librarian Ms Elderton said the whole of Dora Road loves the tree, and was not prepared to rule out a tree-top protest if the plans go ahead.
Civil disobedience? The neighbours want to fight to protect the tree
She said: “Everyone would be devastated if it went. I don’t even want to think about it. It’s incredible that it could happen.
“We feel really seriously about it. I don’t want to speak for other people, but I don’t know if there would be civil disobedience.”
Cabinet member for regeneration, environment and housing, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “We would urge residents to make their voices heard and submit representations on the application, as they will all be carefully considered before a final decision is made.”
To view the plans, click here. Comments will be accepted until June 24.