A catalyst for destruction: Catalyst Housing, leave our trees and parks alone!

This is a picture of a brave protester in one of the trees that Catalyst Housing had planned to cut down yesterday morning.

Yes, despite cutting down most of the trees on the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington, leaving the area around there bare and depriving residents of mature pollution-absorbing trees, green spaces and wildlife (in order to build luxury flats for the next phase of the regeneration of the estate), Catalyst, are still on a further course of destruction, and this time, they are trying to cut down trees in Athlone Gardens.

For the record, Athlone Gardens park was created by what used to be Kensington Housing Trust before they lost the “Trust”, merged with other HAs and morphed into the buge unaccountable corporate behemoth that is known as Catalyst Housing now; back in the 1970s.

It is owned and managed however, by RBKC. It is a public park, that adjoins the Wornington Green Estate and Portobello Road, in a heavily built up part of North Kensington where most locals do not have use of a garden, and the park is not exclusively used by Catalyst residents. Therefore, there was a big public outcry when locals heard that Catalyst would be cutting down the cherry blossom trees in the park .

Catalyst security guards in Athlone Gardens
https://twitter.com/TreesWornington/status/1369533495186448384?s=20

Both locals and environmental campaigners came to the park yesterday to take their morning exercise and to protest against this environmental destruction of our trees and our public land.

Things even ended up at one point with Police trying to get the council close Athlone Gardens so they could charge residents and protesters for trespassing – ridiculous

Here is the letter from Catalyst that had sounded alarm bells for the community as to what was happening the day before . “Essential works” indeed…..

Seeing that the park and trees were under threat, THINKers had emailed RBKC Cabinet Members Cllr Johnny Thalassites (Planning, Place and Environment) and Cllr Emma Will (Culture, Leisure and Community Safety) we alerted them as to what was happening and questioned how.much RBKC knew about this, plus we sent a copy of our previous Wornington Green blog post :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/03/08/wornington-greed-as-catastrophic-catalyst-ignores-the-community-and-cuts-down-pollution-absorbing-trees/

Yesterday our Editor received this from Emma Will and we thank her for this response:

Later on, we received this on Twitter from Johnny Thalassites:

So , Catalyst’s ” tree surgeons” Heritage Tree Services (responsible for destroying mature trees) were called off, Police went away, and the trees survived.

Oh, the contradiction

Today, Catalyst’s axemen and women, “Heritage Tree Destroyers” didn’t carry out their work as it was too windy apparently.But locals are holding their breath as to what will happen tomorrow.

No doubt Catalyst will argue that for changes to the Venture Centre as part of their (approved by only one vote in 2010) regeneration scheme, the trees will have to go. But we say this is a local RBKC park , there will be next to no trees left in that part of North Kensington with the way the disgraceful Housing Association is carrying on, the Venture Centre (with its much-loved adventure playground – also likely to be bulldozed) should stay where it is, and as it is, and Catalyst need to rethink their plans.

This is also RBKC’s time to put their foot down, and tell Catalyst and their chainsaws to get out of the council’s park and to leave the trees, the park and the residents be.

Because if they don’t, any noises of disapproval the council may have made, will count for nothing as they will be complicit in the destruction of our trees and local assets too.

By the way, Catalyst Housing have also completely ignored the fact that some of their residents are affected by Grenfell, their plans have taken zero account of this and the Association’s attitudes towards local residents as well as their refusal to make changes to what is an out of date destructive regeneration scheme says they don’t care one bit.

This is all Catalyst really seems to care about (and quite a lot of those “luxury apartments” are still empty too) :

RBKC should not, in our view, be supporting or defending Catalyst here. After all, we wouldn’t want this Photoshop of ours, featuring Emma Will and Johnny Thalassites outside Athlone Gardens, to be more realistic than originally intended….

This is a chance for the council to demonstrate change, to listen to residents and to show they care about North Kensington and our environment. We urge Cllrs Thalassites and Will to please, please, do the right thing, and put a stop to this – not for a day, not for a week, but for good.

“Wornington Greed” as catastrophic Catalyst ignores the community and cuts down pollution-absorbing trees

We’re so sorry to share the sad news that the Catalyst Housing chainsaws came to North Kensington last Monday and cut the majority of the mostly mature Wornington Green trees down.

Here is a video one of us took of locals and environmental campaigners out there:

These trees are irreplacecable and the devastion this has caused to the local environment is irreversible. The Wornington Green Estate (being renamed “Portobello Square” by Catalyst as there will hardly be any “green” left afterwards) community and the campaigners all asked Catalyst Housing to think again, to redraw their regeneration plans (approved by onw vote 10 years ago), all to no avail, as the greedy Housing Assoication’s number one priority is making money out of all the luxury flats they plan to build there and to hell with what the residents and community think or feel and the consequences of cutting down mature London plane trees which obsorb polltuion from the neighbouring Westway.

Here are some further pictures from Monday.

Here are scenes of the devastation later:

Catalyst Housing maintain the position that the trees will need to be cut down in order to build more badly needed homes. Well, let’s see about that shall we? Because with only TWO of the homes in the next phase being for social rent, here, despite their denials that these are luxury flats, are really what type of homes this supposed”social housing provider” will be building:

That’s right, in Catalyst’s own words; “luxury apartments”. As well as the moral issue of many of these supposedly much-needed homes across the road from where the reees were cut down last Monday remaining empty when we have a housing and homelessness crisis in London, particularly in this borough, there is also another moral issue in our view; and that is of that of the Association being in the act of ruining the local environment and public realm as well as the physical and mental health of residents in Golborne – RBKC’s poorest ward – in order to build them.

The video below is of when the first tree came down and so we will warn readers that this may be distressing for some to watch;

(Apologies for our appalling camerawork there but we were taking our morning exercise.)

Our blog has also heard further disturbing news and that is of plans to fell the mature trees in Athlone Gardens; we understand that the Catalyst chainsaws will be there either tomorrow or Wednesday.

This has been news to the residents and campaigners, but RBKC must have been fully aware of this – especially as Athlone Gardens is a public park managed by the council. THINK are emailing this blog post to both Cllr Johnny Thalassites, RBKC Lead Member for Planning, Place and the Environment, as well as to Cllr Emma Will, RBKC Lead Member for Community Safety, Culture and Leisure (parks, comminity gardens and open spaces are part of her brief) , so let’s see if we get any answers…

Here are some further questions that we hope both RBKC and Catalyst Housing will provide answers to:

– What are the total number of trees that have been felled in the first 9 years of regeneration?

– What types of trees were these?

– How many trees have been planted to replace the ones lost in the regeneration?

– What types of trees are the replacement trees?

– What is the calculation for the mitigation to offset any loss, and how long will it take?

– What are the projected impacts in our health and wellbeing in such a polluted area – is this planning impact legal?

Here is a reminder to both Catalyst Housing and RBKC; the community is watching you and we stand with the Wornington Green residents, we demand answers and better communications with locals on this, and our coverage of the effects on the local community and environment there will continue. After all, we are North Kensington residents too and we care deeply about this . While some of the officials don’t care and while others may turn a blind eye to what is happening , they do find it harder to ignore this when they receive further well-deserved bad publicity……

THINK will end this post with some beautiful pictures of the trees and a look back to when Wornington Green residents and the community enjoyed them and the benefits and beauty they brought to North Kensington.

Wornington Green trees to face axe tomorrow

We apologise to our readers for the technical difficulties with our blog, but we have only heard this news today. THINK are sad to be the bearers of bad news for our community, and especially because yet again, North Kensington residents and their needs have been completely disregarded.

It appears that Catalyst Housing are determined to go ahead and fell the much-needed and loved London plane trees at Wornington Gteen Estate, North Kensington.The word is, they will be cutting down the trees tomorrow morning.

Despite numerous objections and protestations from residents, North Kensington Labour councillors, environmental campaigners and even the RBKC Leadership changing their tune on this, heartless and greedy Catalyst have turned a blind eye and will go ahead with their environmentally destructive masterplan (approved hy the RBKC Planning Committee by just one vote 10 years ago), despite it being out of date and in the face of so much local opposition.

The housing association does say that that while the trees are much-needed, so are new homes, so we’ll inform our readers of just how many extra homes for social rent will be provided by this; ONLY TWO – and no, this is not a typographical error. The rest will be unaffordable flats with a starting price upwards of at least £600,000.

The only minor effort at listening to and working with the comnunity that Catalyst did ever make on this was to look at a few of the trees with the council ( but only after this meeting: https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/wornington-green-catalyst-scheme-not-up-to-scratch-as-residents-and-councillors-hiss-about-loss-of-trees/) and see if they could be moved to Athlone Gardens.

Not exactly a solution to the problem, but sadly this won’t work out as a few weeks back, three of the trees had been due to be moved, but the plans were abandoned, and Wornington Green residents later received these letters:

So the trees would not survive the move, plus this now means a total of 40 trees will be chopped down for the next phase of this development, depriving the locals of greenery, wildlife, beauty and a “green lung”, in a polluted and very built up part of Golborne Ward, North Kensington, which is already desperately lacking in green space.

We think Catalyst ought to stop, listen, and work with – not against – the community and make some effort to come up with alternative plans which would work out for the area, the environment and all concerned , rather than go down this unpopular path of destruction, but we don’t imagine they’d ever really listen to us. After all, they have been ignoring their own residents around here for years….

Nevertheless, THINKers will be out taking our morning exercise in support of the residents and for keeping the trees, at Wornington Green Estate tomorrow, Monday the 1st of March, (by Watts House car park, near the Venture Centre W10 5QG) from 8:30am onwards.

We thoroughly recommend that other locals do so too; it might be the last chance to enjoy the trees and wildlife before Catalyst’s bulldozers and chainsaws come.

Wornington Green: Still green for now

This morning, Catalyst Housing were set to chop down 37 trees on the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington.

Catalyst are not exactly the most considerate and thoughtful of housing associations, having completely ignored the calls from Wornington Green residents, other North Kensington locals and some of our local representatives to reconsider their plans and save the trees (most of which are mature pollution absorbing plane trees), and the housing association decided to turn up with their chainsaws this morning.

But Catalyst probably didn’t reckon on a big turnout of residents, locals and groups , including members of the Labour Party, local Golborne councillor and Leader of the RBKC Opposition, Pat Mason, members of the local Green Party and members of the Kensington branch of Extinction Rebellion, to all be taking their peaceful socially distanced morning exercise out there too.

After a stand off and the Police being called for no reason, “Catastrophic Housing” decided to clear off. The trees are still here.

We thank everyone who turned up this morning in support, and all who shared and posted on social media, including Cllr Pat Mason, Cllr Judith Blakeman and Green Party PPC for Cities of London and Westminster and London Assembly candidate, Zack Polanski.

We especially thank the local residents and campaigners who care deeply about the health and wellbeing of this community and conserving our environment, both now and for generations to come.

But callous Catalyst say they will be back to chop down the trees next week.

So we have this to say to them:

” As long as you refuse to listen to and respect the needs and wishes of your residents and the North Kensington community and as long as you pose a threat to our environment, and as long as you refuse to change your plans, this community will stand together against you.

The fact that lots of people turned out early in the cold, the petition to save the trees gained over 1,000 supporters in such a short space of time, and even the present RBKC Leadership do not support your destructive plans, all ought to be strong indicators that you need to think again.

Members of this blog had planned to be there this morning too, but only due to personal circumstances, we unfortunately couldn’t make it, but THINKers will be out there taking our morning exercise next week, when you have said you will return to chop down the trees.

Do not underestimate the power of community and how we feel about our environment, our trees and our green spaces here – they are invaluable to us – and mean far, far, more to the locals of North Kensington than your luxury flats ever will”

This isn’t over……