Merton Council is investigating whether charges can be brought after the felling of a row of trees at the Ford dealership at Plough Lane, Wimbledon.
In May, after the dealership changed hands within Ford, 11 trees of varying ages and species along the Plough Lane frontage were felled. The trees were a popular local feature with residents and the felling caused significant local reaction, sparking complaints from both local people and the council.
Given the trees were in a conservation area, the council should have been given six weeks’ notice of any intended works or felling, in order to make a determination as to whether the work should be granted permission – or whether a Tree Preservation Order should be made. No notice was given before the felling started.
The council is now therefore investigating whether any criminal prosecution can be brought under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The felling of trees in a conservation area without consent is punishable on conviction by an unlimited fine.
Councillor Martin Whelton, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing & Planning, said:
“Legal action is always a last resort. However as a council we were appalled at the way these trees were felled without any regard for the impact on the area, the conservation status of trees, or the views of local residents.
“It was carried out in view of local people, and completed without the required consent from the council. We want to send out a clear message that this type of unlawful behaviour won’t be tolerated. We are therefore investigating whether any charges can be brought and will do everything we can to ensure those responsible are brought before the courts”.