As Chiswick House Public Consultation Comes To An End

Treecare Arboricultural Specialist Edward Radziwillowicz provides an expert's opinion

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A tour and talk about the trees of Chiswick House Gardens including where new trees are to be planted and why some trees need to be removed will be held on:

Wednesday 31 October at 2.30pm

Tours are free and will be led by Head Gardener, Fiona Crumley. Please meet in the courtyard in front of Chiswick House

Anyone wishing to comment on the planning application (Ref 00176E /TA3 /P13 /L14), should contact the Planning Department at London Borough of Hounslow, Civic Centre
Lampton Road, Hounslow TW3 4DN
Tel: 020 8583 2000

Chiswick House Trust

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In a letter to Sean Doran, Planning Officer at London Borough of Hounslow, Treecare Arboricultural Specialist Edward Radziwillowicz gives his expert opinion on the arboricultural proposals for Chiswick House Grounds.

He writes "It is with some surprise and concern that I am hearing on the grapevine that there are a number of objections and alarms being raised with regard to the arboricultural proposals being put forward within Chiswick House Grounds.

In response to this apparently alarming trend of what sounds like ill informed and misguided opinions, I would like to point out a few salient facts.

1. I have been a regular visitor to Chiswick House Grounds for the past 25 years and as an arboriculturalist throughout that time have taken a keen interest in the trees there in, their stature, impact and condition.

2. The trees in the grounds, and indeed the grounds all together have, in my opinion, been in decline for all those 25 years and more severely so in recent times.

3. No major remedial arboricultural works have been carried out in the grounds for many years, certainly not since my time. This has led to the unacceptable situation of a vast number of trees in the grounds being in the ‘D’ category: i.e. Dead, dying, dangerous, decaying, diseased. Many are simply downright unsafe and a hazard to people and property. Standing dead trees that can be pushed over by hand, trees with internal decay and structural instability not visible to the naked eye nor to any lay person.

4. There are large numbers of children (and adults) using the grounds all the time and it seems a miracle that, so far, some of these dangerous trees have not injured or killed anyone. These ‘D’ have been falling regularly; the grounds are littered with them.

5. This total lack of care and maintenance, has finally led to some action being taken, none too soon, to arrest the long-term decline. The trees have now been surveyed and I am certain that those in need of removal have been targeted carefully.

6. In addition to the ‘D’ category trees the park is swamped with unwanted invasive species which are suffocating the treescape. Most notably the sycamore, Holly & Ash which have self seeded everywhere and are stiffing the native species, Oak, Rowan, Sweet Chestnut etc… Many of these should go to allow space for the more indigenous species and to allow more light all round.

7. It is understood that some trees are also to be removed to regenerate the gardens, return the vistas and generally improve the visual amenity. This will not involve the removal of any of the major features trees, e.g. the Tulip tree by the lake or the Lucombe Oak near the cricket field, on the contrary they should be given more space and prominence it be enjoyed by the public.

8. It is also understood that, although some 400 trees are to go, 1600 are to replace them. That is a 4.1 replacement ratio. All these new trees can be enjoyed by future generations and this is a major point to note. This venture is not just for a few of us still around, some of whom, not seeing the bigger picture, are kicking up a fuss. Lets move on, let’s arrest the decline, clean out the dross and the danger and embark on this new venture to restore the grounds to their former glory while at the same time making them safe for our children and for future generation."

The application was submitted to the London Borough of Hounslow with the planning consultation ending on the 9th October. A decision on the application is expected by the 22nd November. If planning permission is granted then work on site can be expected to begin by April 2008.

October 16, 2007