I have been contacted by a blog reader concerned about the destruction of the mature Hawthorne wood in Manor Park next to the railway bridge which crosses Malden Road. Having donned the hat, old Mac and magnifying glass, I have been on the trail (of destruction) , popping up from behind bushes to snatch quick pictures before skulking back off into the shadows again… (Well I’ve sent off a few emails anyway.)
It seems that the land in question, whilst appearing to form part of the park, has been in private ownership since 1936. It was initially acquired by the Southern Railway Company, who then sold the land to the current proprietor in 2005. The Council has absorbed the maintenance of the area over a period of years.
Upon purchase on the land in 2005 the proprietor did make an application to change the use of the land to car parking. This was rejected and would apparently not be permitted in that space. The only change of use permitted would be to community growing/allotments, which is what the proprietor is now in the process of developing.
The tree's which were in the area, although being many decades old and a natural local amenity, were not subject to tree preservation orders (TPOs), nor were they located in a conservation area. Without either of these things and being on private land, the land owner is more or less free to clear the land if he/she wishes to do so.
While it has been suggested that the allotments idea is merely a ploy to alter the land use with a long term view of having it re-zoned as residential in order to build housing there, one very helpful Kingston Council officer has said he a pretty certain this would never be allowed by the council and that the proximity to the railway line and pylons would apparently make it difficult to develop anyway.