Trees & hedges

Contact: Eileen Willmott,

TREE REPORT FOR THE DPNF AGM 2021                                                         Eileen Willmott  May 2021

There are two parts to this report, first describing how the Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum (DPNF) feeds into Camden’s tree planning rules and second what has happened to our trees over the first year of the DPNF.  The area covered by the DPNF is very similar to that covered by the Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Committee (DPCAAC), therefore the rules applying to trees in a Conservation Area (CA) also apply to it.

Camden trees and planning rules

Planning permission is needed is needed to work on any tree in a CA with a trunk diameter of more than 75mm at a height of 1.5m.  This can be submitted in writing with a six-week notification or through a full planning application.  The notification should be submitted on line via the Planning Portal Website.

Camden Council’s Tree section comprises various officers, some specialising in planting, others for example in tree felling.  Tree maintenance in council housing estates and street properties, highways, schools and street trees are also covered.  The officers will also advise on privately owned trees, those owned by freeholders, landlords and Camden Estate leaseholders.  They can be contacted by email or planning@

Telephone 020 7974 4444

They are found on the 4th floor of 5, St Pancras Square, N1C 4AG.

Street and estate trees work are not included in the planning lists.  Parking bays are usually suspended with a two-week notice period by the Council.  Work is not carried out during the bird nesting season and street tree planting usually occurs between November and February.

Each week I look up ‘’, then I look up the most recent numbered ‘weekly list of planning applications’.  Our tree applications are listed under Highgate/Dartmouth Park, with 2021/xxxx/T where xxxx is their four-digit planning number.   The planning applications and results are also listed by address under ‘search for planning applications, decisions and appeals’.  

Each week, I look up the numbered list and contact the owner asking to view their tree/s if they are at the rear of their property and not visible from the street.  During lockdown I have had to rely more on photographs included in the applications.  Most applications are for pruning, crown reduction and regular maintenance, I rarely object to them, they are often much needed!  

If Camden Planners object to the proposed work, especially fellings, then they can serve a Tree Protection Order (TPO).  However, this does not prevent future maintenance work being carried out on the tree.  Tree owners are encouraged to replace a felled tree with a TPO with a native tree.  If a tree with a TPO is dead, dying or dangerous (DDD), then the application process is waived.  Five days notice must be given for the work, with photographs, a tree surgeon’s report or that of an independent witness.

The DPNF Greening Group encourages the planting of street tree pits with Spring bulbs and wildflowers.  This adds to plant, bird and insect diversity, gives pleasure, is a community talking point and adds amenity value to the area.  However, I have been informed by a Tree Officer that we are not allowed to put edging around the tree pits as it creates a trip hazard, but this does not seem to be applied throughout Camden.  Due to not being allowed out during lockdown, I was only able to plant minature Narcissus bulbs in York Rise and at the top end of St Alban’s Road.  The Council send contractors in August to clear street tree pits.  To avoid your plants being removed, please tie green ribbons around the tree trunks as the contractors have been told to leave them alone.

Summary of Tree Applications for the year from March 2020 to 2021

During the first year of the DPNF, there were 79 applications to crown reduce or prune private trees for maintenance and 44 for felling.  Over 99% were granted or approved by the Council.  Examples of fellings include conifers in Boscastle Road and Woodsome Road, an Ash with dieback disease in Holly Village, a Cherry and Cypress in Brookfield Park and a Holly in St Alban’s Road.  Emergency fellings were allowed for example on an Ash and Red Chestnut in Dartmouth Park Avenue, and a Lombardy Poplar in Laurier Road.  A mature Walnut, with TPO, was saved in Brookfield Park by allowing the insertion of a root barrier to reduce any further root spread.

Street trees are pruned by Council contractors on a 2/3 year cycle, often between November and March, thus avoiding the bird nesting season.  Examples of street trees that have been felled include two Sorbus trees (Mountain Ash, Rowans) in Woodsome Road.  They were riddled the disease ‘Fireblight’ with branches falling on to the pavement and road.  

The Council have replaced the trees in Woodsome Road with Hamamelis (Witch Hazel).  A new Sorbus (Golden Wonder) has been planted in Chetwynd Road and at the top of Dartmouth Park Road two Ostrya carpinifolia (Hop Hornbeams).  They are beautiful young trees, much appreciated by local residents.

It is necessary that local residents water Camden’ new street trees for the first two years of their lives to enable them to survive.  Up to 30% can die from lack of water during this period.  Camden have recently started to put green, slow-release watering bags with their newly planted saplings in street tree pits.  If you have one near to you, please use it to water the trees, especially during dry periods.  Sadly the bags are often filled with drink cans and bottles which could have been recycled!

New developments often have trees, shrubs and flowers planted which improves the environment, are necessary for resident’s health and will help mitigate climate change.  The recent ‘feminist orchard’, with wildflower planting and a pond, at Parliament Hill School are examples of this.   Also a  mature London Plane is likely to be felled on the Highgate Newtown Community Centre (HNCC) site in in order to accommodate construction traffic out to south of the site.  I have asked that it be replaced by the Dutch Elm resistant tree Ulmus lutece, as planted in Waterlow Park by Sir David Attenborough to celebrate his 90th birthday.  The plans for the homeless family hostel in Chester Road include a Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).  Both species will add to the amenity value and biodiversity of our area.

The Dartmouth Park area has some very special trees, some of which are veteran.   Examples are the Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) in the grounds of La Sainte Union Convent, a magnificent Yew (Taxus baccata) in St Alban’s Road, a Holm Oak at the rear of Hillside, a mature Ginkgo biloba street tree in Dartmouth Park Road and the magnificent pink Magnolia in Grove Terrace.

Hedges are also very important to us as wild life corridors and for nesting birds.  More need to be planted, for example in Swains Lane, and better maintained, as exemplified by some on the Brookfield Estate.  


We hope that our Dartmouth Park Community can continue to work together with Camden Council to protect and maintain our current trees.  Trees are characteristic of our area, as mentioned in our Neighbourhood Plan, and are very important to many of our residents for their health and well-being.  It is also crucial that they are well maintained by their private owners and the Council and replaced as necessary with suitable species able to cope with climate change.