Protect the open green space at the junction of Duncombe Hill and Brockley Rise SE23 1QY

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The open space at the junction of Duncombe Hill and Brockley Rise SE23 1QY is a small pocket of green along a busy main road (the only pocket of green along a 2 mile stretch of main road, in fact) which has been accessible to, and used by, the public for many years. It is home to a willow tree, a sycamore tree, a Norway maple tree and 3 x crab apple trees. These mature trees are currently protected by a provisional tree preservation order (TPO) dated 9 November 2018, which prohibits anyone from carrying out work to the trees without Lewisham Council's consent. The TPO is provisional for a 6 month period and is due to expire on 9 May 2019 unless it is confirmed by the Council.

The Council made the provisional TPO because "the trees are visually prominent, being located on the triangular green open space at the road junction of Duncombe Hill with the busy Brockley Rise. The trees form a visually interesting and attractive grouping with differing crown shapes and foliage colours and contribute significantly to the public realm. The trees are considered to be at risk from future development."

Over the weekend of 26/27 January 2019, a large, unsightly green fence was erected, enclosing the trees and the land on which they stand and blocking off public access to the green space. This took place without any prior notice and without planning permission, despite the fact that the fence is significantly over 1 metre high and adjoins a road that vehicles use. The erection of the fence therefore breaches local planning controls. [EDIT: Since starting this petition, Lewisham Council has issued an enforcement notice dated 13 February 2019, requiring the landowner to remove the fence. The enforcement notice states: "The development by virtue of its scale, siting and design has resulted in substantial harm to the appearance of the street scene and public realm visual amenity. It is considered to be a bulky and incongruous addition, dominating the street scene contrary to Policy 15 High quality design for Lewisham of the Core Strategy (2011) and Policy DM30 Urban design and local character of the Lewisham Development Management Local Plan (2014). The Council do not consider that planning permission should be given, because planning conditions could not overcome these objections to the development."]

The erection of the fence has also given rise to a concern within the community that the owner of the land, a property investment company, has intentions to develop the land, although no formal application has yet been made. [EDIT: Since starting this petition, we have discovered that the landowner plans to build 7 flats on the land and will be submitting planning permission imminently. The artist's impression of the proposed development has been shared with the community and it is clear that the image is wildly inaccurate in terms of scale and has been produced with a large dose of artistic licence to make it appear far more attractive on paper than it would in real life. The vast majority of residents canvassed are opposed to the proposed plans and, indeed, to any development whatsoever on the land.]

The community strongly agrees with and supports each of the reasons given by Lewisham Council when making the provisional TPO, as set out above. Whilst we understand that the 28 day period for raising comments in relation to the TPO has lapsed, until the fence was erected the community was not aware that the land in question had been purchased by a property investment company and that it is, therefore, at risk of development. Indeed, many within the community were under the impression that the land is owned by Lewisham Council, as they know it as an open space that has always been accessible to and used by the public.

The purpose of this petition is to demonstrate to Lewisham Council the strength of feeling within the local community that this green, open space and the trees that stand on it should continue to be protected from development.

We ask Lewisham Council to:

1. Take immediate steps to remove the unsightly fence that was hastily erected without permission and therefore in breach of local planning controls. Whilst an enforcement notice has now been issued by Lewisham Council, we understand that the landowner plans to appeal which means it could be more than 9 months until the fence is removed. We therefore ask the Council to use its best endeavours to secure the removal of the fence before then.

2. Confirm the TPO, without modification, to provide permanent protection to the trees on the land.

3. Refuse planning permission for any development on the land, so that the land remains a green open space for the enjoyment of the local community for generations to come.

This petition will be sent to Lewisham Council's Planning Department.