Sunday, 13 December 2020

Chatsworth Road Horse Chestnut: Neighbour appeals to Brent Council planning chief



A local resident and neighbour of the Chatsworth Road garden, where the owner has been given planning permission for a gym to be erected at the bottom of his garden, has written to Brent Council’s  Strategic Director for Regeneration, Alan Lunt, appealing the decision. 


(Edited version):


Dear Mr Lunt


I am writing to you regarding an approved planning application for a home gym in the garden of [a house in] Chatsworth Road. This has been approved by a planning officer.


I was more than surprised to read that the application was approved considering there were 11 objections? Clearly, the concerns and reasoning behind those 11 objections have been ignored. It seems that this  decision has been decided alone by the officer and she gave her guarantee to save the established tree in question.  


The roots of the horse chestnut tree cover an area much wider than the garden in Chatsworth Road, where owners of adjacent gardens have helped maintain the tree and its stunning surroundings for the last 30+ years and in doing so have helped maintained this inner-city natural oasis we have inherited to date. 


My daughters are very saddened to hear the news that the application was granted considering they wrote a personal letter to the owner, asking him  to reconsider his desire for the gym and offering alternative solutions. At school. they were taught that preserving nature in a city which is highly polluted is more than important and they have been encouraged to plant trees, look after nature and in turn this will protect wildlife. Green space  in London needs to be protected more than ever before. My children have actually educated me in realising that fighting for preserving nature is more important than destroying it. My 11 year old daughter's question to me, (when I told her the news ) was, "Surely drilling concrete piles directly downwards  and hoping to miss the roots of the tree, would be impossible?" She knows what piles are as we have had many conversations about how buildings are constructed. Living in London and seeing the changes in construction of  buildings over the last 10 years around the area is vast. 


 My question to the officer would be, "How is it possible to guarantee the horse chestnut tree’s survival, where one has zero clue where exactly those roots lay underground?  In construction there are always errors made no matter how precise a building contractor claims to be. Once a root is damaged, it’s only a matter of time before it will be starved of water and become susceptible to disease in the porous clay we have in this area.” 


The residents of Mapesbury Borders have the same values for protecting nature and the environment for years to come and for the future generations. When we chose to live in this area of natural beauty, we chose to do so based on the pre-existing beauty it gave. For inner London, this is a paradise area of incredible trees, plants, wildlife and for the children who live here, it’s more than important for their future and well-being. For that to be cut short with this futile decision when climate change is at the top of all politicians’ agenda, I am astonished. 


How can we challenge this decision? How can we ask others at Brent council to help review this matter? What would be the consequences of the officer’s single-handed decision, should the tree die? Who would be accountable? 


My children have not had a reply to the letter they wrote to the owner. Perhaps the issue of looking after nature is unimportant to the owner, even though he bought a property with one of the most beautiful gardens in Brent, the need for a home gym outweighs saving it. After all, Nuffield Gym is a ten minute walk away, I would say that’s more than convenient distance to his home to keep fit? 


We would like to appeal the decision that has been made, review the application and discuss the irretrievable damage this project will cause to our tree. So many of the residents in this area enjoy the horse chestnut tree, it’s really stunning. We only want to save it.


I really look forward to your support in this matter and hope you can help us with this application to appeal this decision. 


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