Friday, July 04, 2014

Wood for Trees

One of the recurring themes of the now defunct Area Committees has been local residents requesting the planting of kerbside trees in their road. Indeed most Area Committees have set aside funds for such purposes and the Mayor of London has also allocated funds for Redbridge. And we know for sure that Area Committee 3, as was, had a backlog of requests.

It is well known that street planting enhances the character and feel of a place with a positive knock on effect on the desirability of that place as somewhere to live and therefore property prices. Greenery also mitigates against the pollution caused by passing traffic.

It was then with some astonishment that I found a petition, allegedly signed by 47 residents, against the planting of kerbside trees in Roding Lane North as part of the London Mayor’s initiative.

The reply from Redbridge Council stated that “Whilst I fully appreciate that you and many of your neighbours do not want trees you in turn must appreciate that many do want trees”.

This did not satisfy the petitioner who then appealed the decision and as a consequence the matter went to the Overview Committee yesterday on 3rd July 2014.

As it happened this was a complete waste of time as in the meantime the council had dug bore holes at the proposed sites and rejected all of them as unsuitable due to the proximity of underground utility services.

What was also of interest was the subplot of the petition:

“The uses of this road which reasonably could be obstructed are those by through vehicular traffic and heavy vehicles (except for access to current residents’ homes)”.

Roding Lane North is a category 3 road, not a residential road (although it does have residential properties facing it), and a major designated emergency route, which is why, unlike other local residential roads, it gets gritted in the winter.

The inference here is that only traffic terminating at residents homes should be permitted in this road. One wonders how that terminating traffic, including heavy vehicles, managed to get to and from Roding Lane North without being somebody else’s through traffic. And if the signatories to the petition in Roding Lane North have the right to use roads where other people live, then they in turn must appreciate that other people also have the legitimate right to use Roding Lane North in pursuit of their lawful business.


  1. Went to the new Foyles a couple of weeks ago (thanks to my Boris Pass) and strongly recommend it! Bought Jan Gehl Cities for People and insist this becomes the Bible of traffic engineers, planners, tree people etc.

    Very interesting discussion of crossovers. Why do they make the pedestrian pathway uneven? Why are not footpaths level and of high quality everywhere, including junctions, with plenty of seats and trees for shade to sit and chat?

    Why do not cars go over a hump to get into a front garden if they must - but very interesting argument that front gardens as semi private space between the home and the public, a gentle transition area, is very important and should not be for car litter.

  2. The premise of this petition is astonishing. We need more trees and greenery in the public realm to offset the uprooting of greenery in residential front gardens. These are crudely paved over to shoe horn in more cars and in turn increase the risk of flooding, reduce biodiversity and degrade the look of the steetscape. A positive campaign by Redbridge Council to encourage public awareness for planting greenery and the problems associated with paving over front gardens should be considered along with effective measures in local planning policies to protect front gardens.


    1. Redbridge Council have a £ for £ scheme for planing trees especially in front gardens. Planning permission is now required to pave over front gardens. see Redbridge-i

  3. Reading the petition, I think there is a complete misunderstanding of it. It is not against trees, but against trees in all ready narrow and poor quality pedestrian routes. It implies the solution is to put the trees in the roadway which can be done by making the road residents only.

    The problem is actually the space given to vehicles, meaning pedestrians and trees end up in conflict.

    Did no one work out what the petition was actually about? It was started by a Doctor! Doctors are very aware of healthy life styles!

    1. Clive
      Read the petition again. “Such [through] traffic has other routes available” In other words the petitioner is not concerned with reducing vehicular traffic per se, but simply moving it from outside his home to outside somebody else’s home.
      The petition may be dressed up to pretend it is supporting pedestrians and other footway users but the reality is that the petitioner is obsessed with traffic outside his home and this is the latest in countless petitions spanning a period of some 25 years all relating to vehicular traffic. He has even written a book about it, which he peddles via NHW, but I doubt it is a best seller.

      Oh, and he is not a Medical Doctor. What he is a Doctor of is a moot point.

  4. One of the core points of the book is a variation on work expands to fill the time available - that cars breed to fill the space available.

    People adapt. Restricting space and routes for vehicles has very interesting effects. Voonerfen works!

    1. This is true Clive. But you and I both have cars and we use them. And when we do we are somebody else's through traffic. If we all restrict traffic in "our" road to destination traffic, the furthest anybody would be able to travel in a car is the end of their own road.

  5. as i remember some time ago b-side 21 and some friends were happy to see some possible green space in this road built upon this area could have been for the trees.or the offset of trees
    the problem is that when the council plant new trees here in Chignault residents knock them down with thier cars so it is seen as a waste of money also people dont like the sap/spiders on thier cars maybe residents could plant something no matter how small in thier gardens pots or boxes ,i was walking along a street in Dagenham the other day and it seems as if they have alot of pride in the way the front gardens look very green and very pretty and of course tidy. maybe if our council had staff who walk the local area and make sure it looks presentable we might be better off,

    1. Er no. There is a very small residential development (32 homes) which has replaced a rather dilapidated industrial site.