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
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 :
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.
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.