As local residents and community group members, we are shocked that Catalyst Housing's proposals for St Ann’s Hospital, Haringey, will result in the loss of nearly 50% of the trees on the development section of the site.
See full letter here: Open%20Letter%20to%20councillors.pdf
Sign StAGS petition on Change.org here.
Haringey Council’s press release of 30 September 2022 does nothing to address our concerns. ‘Tough action’, it states, ‘is in the pipeline’ to put in place ‘a dedicated trees policy with a clear expectation of developers to retain and protect mature and veteran trees rather than fell or damage them’. This will come too late for 114 mature trees, 30 tree groups and 260.5m hedgerow at St Ann’s. Haringey’s promise of future action is at best vague, and at worst could be read as greenwashing.
The press release promises future consultation with residents on its trees policy. But local people were never consulted about tree losses at St Ann’s, despite Catalyst’s claims to be ‘putting nature at the heart of the development’. This makes a mockery of local co-design, and ignores the work of community groups struggling to make South Tottenham a greener place to live. If this devastating destruction goes ahead, it will represent the largest felling of trees for any recent development in Haringey. The Friends of St Ann’s Green Spaces petition on Change.org has generated nearly 1,000 protest signatures in just a few days, which demonstrates the strength of local feeling.
St Ann’s Hospital site is a green lung for South Tottenham – an Area of Deficiency in Access to Nature as defined in the 2016 Mayor's London Plan. It contains many mature and rare trees; the woodland area along the southern perimeter is a SINC (Site of Importance to Nature Conservation) and home to a rich variety of wildlife. Botanist David Bevan's 2015 review found that, “Some of the trees are more than 80 years old and many are rare in cultivation.”
The Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA) Survey, submitted as part of Catalyst’s planning application, proposes a huge reduction in trees, including rare species, fruit trees and mature hedgerow on the 60% section of the site currently owned by the GLA. This will have a detrimental impact on air pollution (particularly from St Ann’s Road), and significantly reduce biodiversity. Most worryingly, the reduction in tree canopy combined with increased heat generated by the new housing and 106 parking spaces will intensify the impact of worsening London temperatures. St Ann’s ward tree canopy is well below Haringey’s target of 30% - see its new Parks and Green Spaces strategy. The proposed green roofs and post-development planting of new trees will do little to ameliorate this. Housing is desperately needed, but not at the expense of green canopy in our climate emergency.
St Ann’s development proposals directly contradict Haringey Council’s own Climate Emergency declaration, passed unanimously in 2019, which commits the council to achieving a net zero carbon borough. Trees are the ultimate carbon capture mechanism, and the felling of mature trees at St Ann’s will result in significant carbon release that cannot be replaced by planting new saplings. Renowned arboriculturist Russell Miller, says of Catalyst’s development plans:
‘the scale of tree and canopy loss is extraordinarily high. Given the climate emergency and record London temperatures in 2022, loss of canopy of this magnitude should lead to an automatic rejection of the design. People in London are dying from excessive heat and air pollution… All planning guidance in London is for increasing canopy cover.’
The Mayor’s London Plan Policy G7, p. 329 directs boroughs to ‘protect and maintain London’s urban forest and woodland’, and to retain existing trees wherever possible. Research by Imperial College London demonstrates the importance of retaining complex tree ecosystems, and cautions that, 'poorly planned planting efforts can actually increase the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and increase global warming.’ Catalyst’s proposals for biodiversity offsetting by extending the SINC woodland is deeply problematic: the reduction of overall canopy cover will result in a likely loss of biodiversity. The London Plan (Policy G6) recommends that actions to protect SINCs should include ‘the protection and conservation of priority species and habitats that sit outside the SINC network’. It also notes that ‘biodiversity offsetting is the option of last resort’.
A huge increase in UK woodland is required to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as reported in the Committee on Climate Change’s Report to Parliament 2022. Haringey Council’s aim to plant 10,000 new trees by 2030, while admirable, will be too late. Carbon retention and sequestration does not occur for at least 10 years after trees are planted: retaining mature trees needs to be a priority.
In August 2022 St Ann’s became one of two new Low Traffic Neighbourhood’s for Haringey, and we are seeing significant improvements in air quality. But these benefits will be undermined if the St Ann’s development goes ahead. It is time for Haringey Councillors to take genuine responsibility for the future of Haringey’s residents, and to create a legacy of hope. St Ann’s Catalyst Housing development could and should be an exemplar of green planning and affordable housing. We ask you to reject this planning application.
Friends of St Ann’s Green Spaces (StAGS) Friends of Chestnuts Park
Friends of Finsbury Park Friends of Harringay Stadium Slopes
Friends of Railway Fields Gardens Residents Association
Ladder Community Safety Partnership Haringey Tree Protectors
Tottenham and Wood Green Friends of the Earth Woodlands Park Residents Association
This simply cannot go ahead. Those trees are precious community assets!
Loss of 50% existing tree canopy and replacement with how much (%) tree canopy?
Yes there’s a climate crisis, but there’s also a housing crisis - families living in beds it’s and cramped, unsafe conditions.
It’s easy for these green campaign groups to oppose every development - most of the people running these groups are rich old people living in nice houses - but they can’t be allowed to constantly derail everything.
It is true there is a housing shortage crisis in the UK (which started in the 1980s when Thatcher forced local councils to sell off, on the cheap, their best council housing, while forbidding them to spend money on building new housing), and in London in particular. This has been made worse by the governments since 2010, bribed by big property developers, allowing limits on number of properties built, in order to keep prices high by high demand and insufficient supply. In London generally, and at St Ann's in particular, it would be perfectly possible to combine building sufficient new homes to reduce the numbers forced to live in privately rented accommodation, and increase green spaces/tree cover. Your fantasy about "rich old people living in nice houses" being behind "green campaign groups" is deluded. Many of those involved in trying to preserve or improve the environment are young, or in their middle years. Most older people in Haringey are far from rich, and many are suffering badly due to poor accommodation and inflation. Perhaps you could supply us all with a figure on how many old people (I assume you mean over 65) are "rich" or are "living in nice houses" in Haringey? I suspect most over-65s in Haringey are worse off than you.
That's not accurate Benjamin C. People oppose these kinds of things not because they are NIMBYs but because they have contributed to the community, made it their homes and, in many cases, nurtured the environment for many years, sometimes decades. Its entirely reasonable for them to oppose ill conceived, green-washed proposals. It is their home.
You're right, they are being reasonable and I respect their right to oppose these proposals. I just disagree. Yes these signatories live nearby and their views should be noted, but no they don't own that land and can't expect everything to be preserved as it is forever. For the record - I am myself a 'green' in terms of my lifestyle choices - but what I see in these green campaign groups is a quite hardline and blinkered approach of permanent opposition. They don't seem to care that their position has an impact on tackling the housing crisis, whereby children are living in cramped bedsits and unsafe hostels. Their uncompromising opposition to felling even a single tree is not something I believe most people support.
You are wildly exaggerating the efforts of green campaign groups. "Opposition to felling even a single tree"? Really? Green campaigners are in general concerned with improving the environment for all, whether they live near a development or not. If we do not encourage more trees and green space in our Borough, then the air quality will go down, heat waves will be worse, and everyone will suffer. There's a reasonable position where the "green lungs" can be maintained or improved, while at the same time providing affordable homes for people.
So we should favour the climate crisis to the detriment of the housing crisis, or vice versa? How about – this is an absolute zinger, Benjamin – we figure out a way to build these houses *without* losing 50% existing tree canopy? That we keep some trees and build some houses? Even you, hopefully, couldn't object to that. (Although you do seem quite contrary.)
How about you be a little less irate, Rory, and I’d be more inclined to have a proper discussion with you.
Other countries manage to build AROUND existing mature trees,especially rare ones as some of those on the St Ann's site are.See the Happy Man Tree site, could still be there, not in the way on the PAVEMENT which has no building or 'car park' on it, nor will!
I'm all with you re the trees. But when it comes to the LTN, what do you base 'we are seeing significant improvements in air quality' on? I live off West Green Road, just outside the LTN and soon outside another LTN and all this LTN has brought is an increase in traffic around our school and on West Green Road and other main roads. Our school is supposed to have a 'green screen' but nothing such is in place! I really don't want to move this important subject of trees to yet another LTN discussion, but I'm curious if there's any data out already that we're not aware of.