BY YANN TEAR
Plans to build a more cycle-friendly route from Holland Park Avenue to Notting Hill Gate has hit opposition – because it would involve the cutting down of trees.
Transport for London (TfL) has proposed a cycle lane which involves the removal of about two dozen “thriving” trees, according to neighbours, who say cutting them down would remove a barrier to pollution, as well as rob the area of a defining green feature.
The changes proposed would involve the removal of two mature trees and one younger tree in Holland Park Avenue They would also mean the removal of 23 trees in Notting Hill Gate on the central reservation.
Trees on the pavement at Notting Hill would not be affected Residents opposed to the scheme have started a petition Save the Trees: Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park Avenue, which has so far collected more than 4,000 signatures.
The petition, addressed to TfL, the Mayor of London, and Kensington and Chelsea council, was started by resident Isabel Kay.
She said: “TfL wants to cut down multiple historic trees in a heavily congested area where they are desperately needed to defend against the relentless pollution.
“Three billion trees must be planted by 2050 to end Britain’s contribution to global warming, yet TfL seem to want to take steps in the opposite direction, in their proposal to cut down trees.
“TfL will be putting cyclists lives at risk to introduce a new cycle lane in this traffic-heavy area, chopping down trees to accommodate it. While cycle lanes are undoubtedly crucial to reduce carbon footprint, it is vital that they do not come at an environmental cost.
TfL’s cavalier, careless attitude towards the loss of almost 20 mature trees demonstrates that their primary concern is not the environment, revealing their project to be nothing more than a box-ticking strategy to appear more environmentally-friendly.”
TfL insists any trees that need to be removed will be replaced – albeit at slightly different locations nearby.
A TfL spokeswoman said: Usually, we’ll only remove trees when there’s no choice and we are committed to replacing each one in an appropriate location nearby.
“There are two mature trees which we would need to take down, but the bulk of the existing trees we would have to remove are on a central reservation area which would no longer exist.”
Nigel Hardy, TfL’s Head of Programme Sponsorship, said: “Our proposals for Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate would create much safer and more welcoming high streets for people to walk, cycle and spend time in.
“The removal of trees has been carefully considered and has only been proposed where absolutely necessary. The small number of trees taken out will be replaced by suitable new trees.
“We welcome feedback from everybody on these proposals and I would encourage people to take part in our consultation and have their say.”
TfL’s consultation paper says the plans are aimed at encouraging more walking, cycling and public transport usage in the area and will make London greener, healthier and more pleasant.
They claim it will make it easier to cross busy roads, removing through traffic on some residential roads and offer a segregated space for people to cycle in west London.
New and upgraded pedestrian crossings are also planned in an ambitious project stretching from Wood Lane and Shepherd’s Bush to Holland Park and Notting Hill gate.
Cllr Johnny Thalassites, Kensington and Chelsea Council’s Planning and Transport spokesman, said: “We’d encourage everyone to have their say on TfL’s proposals and tell them what they think.”
TfL’s current proposals are an attempt to improve London’s roads for cyclists. Encouraging more people to make the healthy choice to cycle in the borough is a big part of our wider air quality strategy.
“However, we’ve heard from huge numbers of residents with serious concerns about the current plans, including the potential for gridlock, the loss of trees and the effect the plans will potentially have on vital local high streets and businesses.
“We believe TfL can and must review the parts of their plan that have caused these concerns.”