Fringe Box



Letter: Guildford Golf Club Plans to Cut Down Three ‘Majestic’ Beech Trees

Published on: 10 May, 2023
Updated on: 10 May, 2023

From: Katherine Atkinson

Merrow resident and and independent chair of the board for the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

If you have ever wandered beneath the gorgeous, majestic beech trees lining the path next to the clubhouse at Guildford Golf Club then you may be horrified to learn that the club is adamant that three of these trees will be felled on Monday (May 15) next week.

Guildford Golf Club is planning to cut down the three beech trees (marked on the photo) on Monday, May 15.

This is despite opposition from planners and the parks department at Guildford Borough Council, our new ward councillors, Merrow Residents’ Association and some paid-up members of the club itself.

I suspect a few more golfers might question the plans had they been given a more accurate picture of the logic for cutting down such beautiful trees.

Stephen Rudd (environmental officer for Merrow Residents Association) and I met the club chairman today. He told us the three beech trees posed a risk to the clubhouse, showing a picture of another beech tree that fell over in a storm recently at the far end of the golf course.

On the basis of this rationale, you would cut down every tree in the UK just in case they fell over at some point.

The three threatened beech trees are close to the Guildford Golf Club clubhouse.

When we asked to see a proper risk assessment for the trees to be felled our request was declined by the club.

We aren’t talking about ash die back here, which can be hard to spot until the tree is brittle. These beech trees are in good health and currently in their finest spring outfits, filtering the occasional sunshine through vivid green dappled foliage, providing nesting habitat for birds and framing the bottom of the downs for everyone who enjoys the common land that is Merrow Downs.

Guildford Golf Club would be wise not to proceed with its ill-thought-out plans that fly in the face of sensible risk management and environmental protection. Business reputations are hard to establish and easily ruined.

These trees are within a nationally protected landscape, the Surrey Hills. They deserve, and hopefully will get, tree preservation orders [TPOs]. But until that time, they are not safe.

Please tell your councillor you care. Tell Guildford Golf Club you care.

Editor’s note: The Dragon has contacted Guildford Golf Club and GBC for a comment.

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Responses to Letter: Guildford Golf Club Plans to Cut Down Three ‘Majestic’ Beech Trees

  1. Natalie Pattinson Reply

    May 10, 2023 at 8:45 pm

    These trees keep animals and humans alive.

  2. John Shorto Reply

    May 10, 2023 at 9:47 pm

    With global warming the three-tree canopy allows shade for the building and should be retained.

  3. Francis Taylor Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 11:05 am

    These trees are a massive contribution to the local amenity and their removal would be a significant loss to the landscape. Every effort should be made to keep them as they add a significant visual element to the character of the area.

  4. Robert Avis Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 12:01 pm

    To fell them without knowing they were a serious risk would be an act of tin eared ignorance. Let’s see if they are a danger.

  5. R Mitchell Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    We should be doing everything we can to preserve our beautiful landscape and trees are a major help in our efforts to stem global warming.

    There seems to be no good reason to fell these trees and I suspect it is, once again, more about saving money on regular ground maintenance.

  6. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    “If you have ever wandered beneath the gorgeous, majestic beech trees lining the path next to the clubhouse at Guildford Golf Club”…

    You should be aware that Beech trees are also known as “widow makers” due to their tendency to unexpectedly shed large branches for no apparent reason. As a Boy Scout many years ago I was taught never to camp under a beech for that very reason.

    Not the best trees to have close to buildings, or in areas of high footfall such as this.

    • Katherine Atkinson Reply

      May 11, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      Dave Middleton presents an interesting fact. Would he be able to tell me how many widows have been made by these particular trees, say, in the last 20 years?

      I walk under them most days and I don’t think I have even been aware of leaf fall.

      If the golf club has evidence to show these trees pose a danger to the public then they need to make it available – to the public.

  7. John Lomas Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    I don’t know about those three trees, but there is one out in the middle of the course which can be seen on this Google aerial view which appears to be totally devoid of foliage despite the adjacent trees being in full leaf.

  8. Alan Eggleton Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    Which was there first the trees or the club house?

    There are a number reasons why they should stay as written in other people’s comments. Pleasant on the eye, provide protection from sun and also hides the clubhouse from walkers strolling along the footpath at the end of the club driving range. My vote is definitely to leave the trees alone.

    Editor’s comment: The golf club was established in 1886 but this may not be the age of the current club house. According to A beech with stem diameter of 150 cm (5 feet) is approximately 277 years old.

  9. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    Since the most important subject of conversation currently is on saving the three Beech trees rather than, say, the issues concerning the development in the town centre or “creating a white elephant of a bus station (according to SCC Highways)” or flood alleviation measures (the EA sitting on their hands?) or whether Debenhams site is proving too problematic for demolition etc, I thought I should also express my totally ignorant botanical views to add to the columns of The Dragon.

    It seems from the photograph that the one in front of the club building is leaning forward. Its roots under the club building are counter-balancing it and so in the event of a storm uprooting it, the club building and its foundation could get damaged. Others seem quite upright and therefore maybe only this one could be removed to safeguard the club house?

  10. Susan Robinson Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    What a shame. Please change your mind Guildford Golf Club. These trees are irreplaceable and pose no threat

  11. Judith Hunt Reply

    May 12, 2023 at 9:35 am

    I am horrified to hear of the potential loss of the three beautiful mature beech trees at Guildford Golf Club. These beech trees are part of a wildlife corridor, and the beech trees an iconic part of the Surrey Hills. They are mature and a constant reserve for wildlife.

    It is not just unbelievable that the trees are being removed, but to be carried out so suddenly at the time of year when nesting is occurring is inconceivable. Guidance from the Forestry Commission is very clear on this.

    A club that is located in its enviable position should feel privileged to be surrounded by this beautiful countryside, particularly at this time of climate change.

    It is interesting to see the beautiful photo on the golf course website, which shows the trees proudly in place!

    I have just seen the mission statement on the Guildford Golf Club website, which is rather at odds with the planned tree felling.

    “Established in 1886 and subsequently redesigned by J H Taylor, the course is situated on typical Surrey chalk downs, bordered by attractive woodlands “

  12. Peter Jaffe Reply

    May 12, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    I like to walk and these trees look really good. I hope that they are not cut down.

  13. Jeremy Pattison Reply

    May 14, 2023 at 4:18 pm

    The club was established in 1886 but the clubhouse was in the far corner of the Downs on Warren Road.

    The club moved to the current site in 1901 and the new extension adjacent to the trees was opened by Peter Alliss in 1998.

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