8 February 2021
The campaign to save the trees at Dixon Clark Court should be viewed with great sadness. We should thank the determined and intrepid protestors on the site, as well as many others in the Borough, for focussing our attention on the vital need to retain all our sizeable trees for their contribution to our health and to mitigate against the effects of climate change. Islington Council undoubtedly needs to build social housing, but it should never be a choice between trees and open space, on the one hand, and homes, on the other. Islington is one of the boroughs most deficient in access to green space in the country, and residents need every patch they can find for their physical and mental health and well being.
The council must find new ways to finance social housing so that private homes do not have to be squeezed into building schemes to make a project viable financially, which is the issue at Dixon Clark Court.
But central government policy is at the root of the problem, with complex rules on use of money from right-to-buy sales, for example, that seem designed to discourage rather than encourage councils. What we need is for government to establish a framework that enables and encourages boroughs like Islington to use their limited available land to build entirely social housing.
I hope that Islington Council will protect mature trees in future and ensure new plans take full account of its declared ambition to combat the climate emergency and do not involve cutting down 50 year old tree-cover - new saplings, even if they survive, will not produce equivalent benefits for another 50 years.
Sue Lees, Islington Green Party