It is 95 years since the Northampton Mercury reported on a “vigorous tree planting campaign being undertaken by the residents of Selsdon Garden Village” as Selsdon was then known. We benefit today from the efforts of our predecessors. Now it is our turn.
Trees, especially roadside trees have a limited life. They need to be maintained and some have to be felled when they become dangerous. In normal circumstances they would be replaced, but the Council’s financial difficulties mean the five year tree planting programme for 2018 to 2023 has been postponed indefinitely.
The first three years had concentrated on those wards in the north of the borough, where the level of pollution is high and tree canopy cover is lower than here in the south of the Borough. The plan for years four and five was to concentrate on wards located in the south of the Borough, including the Selsdon area. This will now not happen.
There are some external grant opportunities so it is possible some tree planting can still be carried out in the Borough but not on such a large scale as in previous years. There is a risk that what money is sourced will again be spent elsewhere in the borough.
Right now, the only expenditure allowed on trees is on safety grounds. Any that are dangerous will be cut down, but that is about it. Even a tree that has been cut down may not be removed if it is safe and does not cause an obstruction.
One piece of work that it is hoped will take place is to survey the ‘tree pits’, the roadside locations where trees have been planted. This will identify how many are empty and need replacement. It may be some time before that happens if we rely on the council.
It would be great if we could create new tree pits, but these are even more expensive than replacing lost trees in current tree pits. It is very unlikely that the council will do this in any circumstances, even if we lose tree pits due to the roots of the removed tree being too expensive to remove.
Here is our opportunity to be worthy of our predecessors, whose legacy is the environment we live in today. If we can raise money, we can get trees planted sooner. The Council has a contract with a provider who will plant the trees for us. But what variety of tree, and where, and how do we raise the money?
There are options: Government bodies like the Mayor of London and others, like the National Lottery or local businesses. Developers contribute to the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 funds. The Selsdon Community Plan shows what our residents value most highly and is a key supporting document for any application.
This is where we need your help. We will get more trees planted if we have a community group who understand the area, who can gather the information we need, who can identify opportunities to raise money, places to plant trees and enlist the residents themselves, perhaps just to water the fledgling trees so they have a better chance of survival. We may need to fill out applications for funding and gather supporting documents.
Without your help there may be no more trees planted in Selsdon for quite a while.
Please get in touch via email to SelsdonCommunityPlan@gmail.com.