Residents in Twickenham have protested the felling of trees by a Volkswagen dealership in South Rd, TW2.

On Wednesday (August 25), neighbours stood under trees to prevent them being cut down, as contractors removed shrubbery and trees on private land belonging to Citygate Automotive.

Objectors argued that some trees were protected by a Tree Preservation Order, and said that the shrubbery was vital in shielding houses from the industrial view of air-conditioners, advertising, floodlights and cars.

Paul Warrington, a member of South Road Residents Association, said:

“This was an entirely peaceful move on the part of the residents who wanted the contractors to pull back, take a deep breath and for everyone to discuss matters with the council.

“When we saw the first tree being mutilated, a couple of residents went over and stood under the tree and refused to move until the contractors stopped.

“Later on in the day, VW continued their scorched earth policy and removed all of the mature landscaping in front of the site which has been there for years for public and residential amenity.

“There is now nothing left apart from a few mutilated trees. One of the residents who has been living on the road since 1982 was in tears."

Director of the car dealership, Peter Wood, responded that landscaping was part of their maintenance programme. He said:

“Citygate Automotive Ltd acquired the Twickenham facility in January of this year, which was in a very poor state of disrepair. After seeking advice and guidance from the council, we have begun a programme of tree pruning and maintenance to the area facing onto South Road.

“This area has been significantly neglected over many years and has also become home to significant volumes of rubbish, bottles and general waste. Our intention has only ever been to improve this property and the surrounding area, which we are now very close to completing.”

However, residents fear there is more at stake, after Lidl on South Road removed landscaping earlier in the year.

Residents Ian and Audrey Simmons said:

“Is this the end of the ‘leafy suburbs of Twickenham?”’

A spokesperson from Richmond Council responded:

“This week the Council responded to reports of tree work being carried out on a strip of private land in South Road, Twickenham. An Arboricultural Officer attended site and found that a protected tree was in the process of being pruned; this work was halted immediately, and the Council is now investigating further.

“Whilst on site the company undertaking works expressed an intention to remove and prune other dead trees, that do not have protected status, to address their relationship, including contact, with the adjacent building. Council officers inspected these trees and did not object to the proposed actions.”