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Save The Trees Of Spitalfields

March 12, 2015
by the gentle author

We need the trees in Spitalfields to remind us that these were once fields. In front of  the 1927 Fruit & Wool Exchange are a line of six magnificent London Plane trees that have stood there for a generation in Brushfield St, yet these are now threatened with felling by Exemplar Properties, the developers, who seek to get rid of them to make the demolition of the building easier.

As many readers will remember, almost nobody in Spitalfields wanted the redevelopment of the Fruit & Wool Exchange into corporate offices and a shopping mall. Tower Hamlets Council voted unanimously twice to reject the proposal but Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, exercised his autocratic power to overrule them and force the development on us.

So we are losing the Fruit & Wool Exchange and The Gun pub – and now, to add insult to injury, Exemplar Properties want to cut down our trees too. Yet there is no actual necessity to do this to construct the new building and the trees are in a Conservation Area where preservation of the quality of the environment should be paramount. The trees provide an attractive green canopy in summer and offer dramatic silhouettes against Christ Church in winter. They are healthy, strong specimens between thirty to forty years old and are not a safety hazard, so there is no justification for their removal. Felling these trees serves no-one’s interests but Exemplar Properties.

The truth is that we shall need these trees even more in future to ameliorate the environmental damage of the construction project and then to provide a measure of screening from the overblown development when it is complete.

They have taken the Fruit & Wool Exchange and The Gun against the wishes of the majority of local people, but it is in our power to stop them taking the trees.

Click here to register your objection to the felling of the trees in Brushfield St

You may also like to read about

So Long, London Fruit & Wool Exchange

Last Orders at The Gun

32 Responses leave one →
  1. March 12, 2015


    What’s not to love?
    objecting 🙂

  2. March 12, 2015

    Incredible! What is going on in London? If the Mayor of London is unhelpful, then here should be involved an expert, like HRH CHARLES THE PRINCE OF WALES. He will do an intervention!

    Love & Peace

  3. Jaki permalink
    March 12, 2015

    Objection made!

  4. March 12, 2015

    In the meantime, even Boris Johnson and his cronies should know how important trees are for the environment and the people living in it. I hope it is possible to save those beautiful plane trees. Valerie

  5. March 12, 2015

    There is now almost a daily diet of requests to campaign against the destruction being forced upon us by faceless developers who ignore long established conservation bodies and the needs of local communities. When everyone is understandably outraged by Isis’ desecration of Mosul’s artefacts, we have our set of barbarians far closer to home to deal with.

  6. Jane Halliday permalink
    March 12, 2015

    I am fed up to the back teeth with developer’s and planners in London. They are very quickly ruining a world famous skyline with the most horrendously UGLY buildings that do little or nothing to enhance the area around them! Now, they want to cut down 6 bloody trees?! London Plain trees were planted as they are attractive, robyst and better than most trees for absorption of smog fumes. They are well established trees and should be left alone. The hint is in the good they due for the environment, birds and area they enhance….Spitalfields…not concretfeilds!!!!. I lived in London for 12 years in Hackney and visited Spitalfields regularly and know theses trees well.
    Get stuffed developer’s!

  7. March 12, 2015

    Very strongly objected.

    The short-sightedness, and unyoked greed, of London’s development serve only to line their pockets and rob us, however they may couch it with rhetoric. Their lust for destruction is rampant and needs to be stopped.

  8. March 12, 2015

    This utter disregard for the wishes of the people who actually have to live with these developments makes me so angry and sad. And now the trees, what will they think of next? They shouldn’t underestimate the importance of trees in creating a wholesome and livable atmosphere.

  9. Ron permalink
    March 12, 2015

    What on earth is wrong with these so called planners. Disgusted.

  10. Elizabeth cornwell permalink
    March 12, 2015

    For goodness sake!Whatever is happening to this poor country?Will no one stop the march of greedy ignorant developers?They wont be happy until everywhere is concrete tarmac & useless buildings that no one wants or needs!

  11. Lisbeth Ehlers permalink
    March 12, 2015

    and what about the birds ? Surely there must still be birds in London who need a green and pleasant habitat instead of concrete perches.

  12. Evelyn Humphreys permalink
    March 12, 2015

    Developers wanton destruction of nature & all it’s benefits is pure greed. Boris’ real face emerges from the dusty smokescreen trail left behind him… a true conservative indeed – sadly not of our ol’ London though !

  13. Alison permalink
    March 12, 2015

    Is there no end to the greed of developers? It is a worldwide curse. Can they not see the value of working around existing streetscapes/buildings/trees/parks; re-using that which is there and/or incorporating the old into the new without destruction. They need to be re-educated to see beyond the ££ or $$.

  14. March 12, 2015

    These trees are like friends with their own distinctive personalities! Objected.

  15. March 12, 2015

    Not only should these so called ‘developers’ leave the trees alone, they should be compelled to plant more trees as a part of their remit. Its shameful and irresponsible behaviour, and johnson is
    to blame. We need more dissent from londoners to prevent these things happening.

  16. March 12, 2015

    Awful. Same thing happened at Stonecutter Street. See here:

  17. Walter Blackstock permalink
    March 12, 2015

    Is it too late to apply for a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) for a limited period while a more balanced review is carried out? The trees are in a conservation area, contribute to local amenity, and have been pollarded and well-maintained, contrary to what the submission implies. It may be a futile gesture, little more than a stick in the wheel of a juggernaut, but I don’t think berating developers has much effect.

  18. Vicki Lovell permalink
    March 12, 2015

    I have from Australia, sent a protest to the link you provided. I do hope that there will be a change of plan. I am an Australian but with a family background dating back to 1801 in Spitalfields and visited London in 2008. An amazing mixture of modern and ancient styles, a beautiful vibrant city, but a place where I couldn’t imagine living if not for the trees and parks available. I am lucky to live in a country where the native trees and plants are incorporated in every streetscape , parks and green belts, I hope the powers that be will listen and those trees will remain in that beautiful amazing area. Thank you for doing what you do. Good luck.

  19. Susan Jessen permalink
    March 12, 2015

    Hope these beautiful trees are saved.

  20. Sally Dorn permalink
    March 12, 2015

    Hello–I am from Dallas, Texas. I have been to the UK many times, most recently in June 2014. There was a 20 year gap at that visit. I was so disappointed to see the changes! I love your passion in trying to save the buildings and now the trees. Your blog is so interesting. I look forward to it every day–makes me feel like I have visited again. I wish you luck in your efforts to save those beautiful plane trees! I would love to see them leafed out if you have the time to photograph them in the spring.

  21. March 12, 2015

    First they came for the Fruit and Wool Exchange but I did not stand up because I was not a Fruit and Wool Exchange. Then they came for the Gun pub but I did not stand up because I was not the Gun pub. Then they came for the trees…

  22. Deana Ball permalink
    March 12, 2015

    i strongly object to your plans for these beautiful trees, the deboplets need to come up with a plan to work round them, they provided roosts for birds and are a joy to see

  23. Pauline Taylor permalink
    March 12, 2015

    A word of caution here, someone will need to keep a constant watch on these trees otherwise the developers will just fell them, and then say “oops, sorry” afterwards. This is what happened here when developers wanted to remove some beautiful long established trees lining our old bypass, they claimed that they would be in their way whilst they built hideous new houses on the flood plain behind them. Permission was refused but they went ahead anyway. All that then happened was that nothing was done to punish them for such wanton destruction which had only benefitted them! Our trees were ornamental cherries which always looked lovely at this time of the year, we miss them.

    I agree with the comment that the developers should be required to plant more trees, but greed and backhanders are such nowadays that I fear that it won’t happen. It is all very sad as trees add so much to urban environments, and I believe that they are essential for the mental wellbeing of those who have to live there.

  24. Neville Turner permalink
    March 12, 2015

    I remember those trees in Spitalfields and those adjoining the ground of Christchurch being my very first visual contact with anything green and actualy growing and changing with the seasons,so different from all the surroundings of concrete and tarmac roads.Spitalfields needs more trees and open green spaces not less.

  25. Peter Holford permalink
    March 12, 2015

    I wonder what sort of London these people want. I guess they have no vision of any goal except that of accumulating money and removing perceived obstacles. God help us all.

  26. Matt Johnson permalink
    March 12, 2015

    I get deeply upset each and every time I walk past the Fruit & Wool Exchange. Absolutely no need for this large and handsome, yet understated and much-loved old building to be demolished. To then rip these dignified old trees up from their roots is just rubbing salt into the wounds of the local community.

    One is not supposed to use the ‘C’ word, I suppose, but on an intuitive level it’s surely obvious to even the most naive person that corruption is now endemic and is corroding the very machinery that controls our great old city.

    With such an orgy of greed unleashed, and our skyline and neighbourhoods changing shape at bewildering speed before our eyes, the depressing reality is fast sinking in that ordinary Londoners have now been been reduced to the role of non-participants in their own lives.

  27. Riki permalink
    March 13, 2015

    Just as we find comfort in a breeze that tames a summer’s heat,
    So do we find, in the steady sway of a familiar branch,
    the same, certain shadow, to walk with us.
    We do not wish to say good-bye to the Trees of Spitalfields,
    To our friends, season upon season, year after year.

  28. March 13, 2015

    My observation over the years of people who place the making money above all else is that they by and large don’t do street life. To them, that is where the little, non people live, the losers, the drones. They feel superior in their status cars, going door to door about their business. They don’t have empathy or conscience. They have seemed to me, when I have heard their world views, like psychopaths, that is what we’re up against. Resistance is essential, they are voracious.

  29. jenn permalink
    March 13, 2015

    These are beautiful buildings and trees. It’s a pretty area, and now it’s going to be soul-less like most of the rest of London is. I see no reason why they want to destroy nature and history. Greed.

  30. teapot permalink
    March 13, 2015

    Looking at the Fruit and Wool Exchange peacefully sitting there in the sun, this all seems so utterly horrible and senseless – the vista from this direction is so comfortably in context, unlike the jarring mess you get when looking in the direction of Spital Square. Taking the trees is just adding insult to injury. Objecting.

  31. Ben Hutton permalink
    March 14, 2015

    Objection made too!

    This area is so special and individual, and to see it picked at by the fat cats who really wouldn’t know soul if it sat on them, really breaks heart and all reason.

    Working and living in the area for many years, you really see the pride on the streets, this needs to live on for so many reasons. Here today, hopefully here tomorrow.

  32. June 26, 2015

    Does anyone know what is currently happening with the trees? I have noticed that last week one was cut down. This week two of the trees have been cut right back, with all their leaves and foliage striped right back (surely this is the wrong time of the year to cut them back so severely? and could cause damage?)
    I dont trust the developers or the Planning dept and worry that we will loose the trees for good.

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