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Worker in Dickens Square Park, driving a dump truck along a new pathway.

Southwark Council contractors mistakenly chop down two trees

Council contractors mistakenly hacked down two 40-year-old trees in a Southwark park following incorrect plans.

Landscape architect firm LDA Design felled the black poplar trees in Dickens Square Park last month while working to outdated and inaccurate plans for Southwark Council’s redevelopment of the area.

Urban environmental group, Trees for Bermondsey, campaigned last March to save the 30-metre trees, which were earmarked for removal with almost 80 others, convincing architects to redirect a footpath.

William Pearce, previously a member of Trees for Bermondsey, said: “The park had been closed off and the trees we had ‘saved’ were gone. They hadn’t even lasted a year.

“Sadly, it seems Southwark Council prioritise development over maintaining existing tree stock.

“I expected to be told by the council that the trees were diseased, as this had become the standard response to disappearing trees around Bermondsey.”

Southwark Council said that LDA Design has accepted its mistake and were committed to paying for and replacing the trees.

Southwark councillor Kieron Williams said in an email seen by South West Londoner: “I was also extremely distressed to hear this had happened.”

“Sadly, it would appear a serious mistake was made by the contractor.”

Williams added in the email that he has asked Southwark’s arboricultural officers to work with LDA Design to prevent this situation from happening again.

Southwark Council’s redevelopment of Dickens Square Park is an attempt to reduce anti-social behaviour by allowing ‘clear views’ and ‘passive surveillance’, according to its website, removing trees that made the park feel ‘dark and unwelcoming’.

There have been a number of crimes related to the area, centred around a thickly wooded path known as Butterfly Walk.

The park, which has been closed since 4 January, is due to be completed in the summer and Butterfly Walk given improved visibility and a more welcoming entrance.

LDA Design declined to comment.

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