Greening

There are now 7 boards on the Heath and at Kenwood which aim to raise awareness of the Heath’s biodiversity as part of an initiative by the  Heath & Hampstead Society  and the City Corporation. Check out the biodiversity page on The Heath & Hampstead Society website.

Read our latest Greening Report here

GREENING PROJECTS

Contact: Catharine Wells, info@dpnf.org.uk

Everyone who lives and works in the DPNF area is a member of our neighbourhood forum.

We can all play our part in preserving and enhancing the semi-rural nature of the many streets and estates which provide the green corridors of trees, hedging, private and estate gardens linking the Heath, Highgate Cemetery, Waterlow Park and Dartmouth Park. Holly Village, created in the nineteenth century by Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts, remains a heritage asset with picturesque houses grouped around a leafy private garden, surrounded by lattice fencing, dense holly hedges and huge conservation-listed trees.

All these are key to maintaining and increasing biodiversity* in our area, as well as ensuring that it continues to be a special place to live and work in, and to visit.

Check out the DPNF Plan to see what people have said they like about our green spaces, and what they would like to see improved.

* Collins English Dictionary defines biodiversity as the existence of a wide variety of plant and animal species in their natural environments, which is the aim of conservationists concerned about the destruction of rainforests and other habitats.

What can we do and where to begin?

Trees: we can plant more of the right trees in the right places. Walk around your area using this handy app www.treetalk.co.uk/ to identify different trees, and also note street trees that need watering or are damaged, as well as empty tree pits.

To find out about Camden trees in streets, on estates and in green and public open spaces, visit www.camden.gov.uk/trees. Their ‘Statistics’ tab provides fascinating facts about tree species and tree age, and also tells us that Highgate Ward has the highest level of tree canopy cover in the borough after Hampstead. Camden’s tree team can be emailed at treesection@camden.gov.uk.

Flowers in street tree pits: you can volunteer to improve tree pits in your street with annual flowers. Spring bulbs and annual wildflowers are a boon for insects, improve the streetscape for everyone, and even help you to get to know your neighbours (see above link to Camden street trees for information). They advise tying a green ribbon around the tree trunk where flowers have been planted in the tree pit to let street cleaners, weed eradication personnel and tree surgeons know that flowers have been planted. 

Camden is reviewing its current Biodiversity Action Plan and want to hear from you: Camden would like your input on any areas, including ideas for greening the built environment and opportunities for access and education – anything within the Borough related to nature, natural spaces, and opportunities to protect, increase and enjoy it. Give us your ideas, or just share with us what is important to you about Camden’s wildlife and green spaces, on the map. What you tell us will inform Camden’s Biodiversity Action Plan and ensure that our wildlife thrives well into the future.”

Hedges provide an important habitat and corridor for wildlife, especially in our built-up areas and streets. The DPNF is fortunate to have a number of streets and estates with the original hedging, in particular Holly Village and the ‘Homes for Heroes’ and Brookfield estate built after WW1. Residents have expressed a strong interest in helping to maintain existing hedging and in restoring lost sections, to recreate a ribbon of green (contact DPNF to support this initiative).

Front gardens are of huge benefit to neighbours, to wildlife and to every passer-by, which is why the DPNF supports the greening of paved areas currently given over to car parking.

Greening our four shopping hubs: all our DPNF consultation and engagement confirmed that people would welcome more greening and softening of  the areas near our well used and highly valued shopping  and community hubs in Swain’s Lane, Chester Road, York Rise and Highgate Road. Large tub planting for small trees or shrubs, outdoor seating with planting, and raised beds have all been suggested. The DPNF would like to hear your ideas.

What has the greening project group been doing?  We have already and continue to organise walkabouts on estates and streets in the DPNF area, with local residents,  to identify places which might benefit from council support and/or community  engagement, to add trees, shrubs, green areas, parklets and other measures to improve our environment for everyone.

The DPNF Greening Group is working closely with Heath Hands to improve biodiversity corridors between the Heath and the Forum area as well as providing more information and opportunities for community engagement. This year’s celebrations  mark the  150th anniversary of the Hampstead Heath Act 1871. Follow this link to find out more: https://www.heathandhampstead.org.uk/heath/biodiversity/

Dartmouth Park NF Greening Group & Heath Hands Walkabout 09/04/21

Following a couple of useful online meetings with Karin and Colin of Heath Hands, we agreed to meet for a walk along the fringes of The Heath abutting the DPNF area and also to look at some of the existing green corridors within our area linking the Heath, Highgate Cemetery, Holly Village, Holly lodge Estate, the Nature Reserve and Dartmouth Park reservoir.

Both groups are looking at ways of supporting each other’s work and aims, as we know that wildlife moves across boundaries and needs help from all of us to survive and thrive.

DPNF engagement and consultations over the 7 years leading up to the Plan’s acceptance, indicated that residents, businesses and visitors especially appreciate the green and semi-rural nature of much of the area and asked for this to be preserved and enhanced. This is reflected in our Plan and our Greening Group objective of involving as many people as possible within our community in this shared initiative.

Heath Hands are keen to increase links with local groups on the fringes of The Heath, to share their specialist knowledge, help create new green corridors between The Heath and residential areas, and to get more support and understanding of the work they are doing from the wider community. see link: https://www.heath-hands.org.uk/wildlifearoundheath,

We met at the Swain’s lane entrance. Jo and Rory of Heath Hands (Colin called away for a First Aid emergency) and Eileen and Catharine of the Greening Group (Kathleen detained by a work deadline)

We walked along Highgate Rd just inside the hedging, while discussing the impact on The Heath of the extra footfall during Covid. From the pavement we noted the vertical planting on the new La Swap building and the young Holly & mosaic Hedging and wildflowers and shrubs along the boundary fencing- all very positive.

Catharine mentioned the project at Parliament Hill School for pupils to plant an Orchard circle of Apple Trees surrounded by a wildflower meadow. This was facilitated by Camden Think & Do and Kentish Town Transition supported by a grant from PUNL Community Energy Fund. See the H&H for article & photos. Heath Hands are also working with William Ellis school.

Turning into Lissenden Gardens, we saw the efforts by residents to nurture various “natural areas” (plenty of bumblebees and some nesting birds) and maximise possibilities for community growing. (Grow Lissenden are very active.Two further ideas were mentioned: A) small round holes in the base of the fencing separating Parliament Hill School green space and Lissenden Gardens could allow hedgehog circulation. B) large wooden pallet style planters on the flat areas on either side of the main entry door to mansion blocks for flowers. Kira of HH has Lissenden connections. This could be explored further, once refurbishment is completed and scaffolding removed.

Before turning into Glenhurst Av (with its mix of street trees and front gardens), near where the Heath meets Mansfield Rd, we mentioned the nature reserve by the railway (an ACV) and the Murphy’s Yard redevelopment.

We noted the importance of the “Highgate Enclosures” on both sides of the main road with mature trees before turning into Woodsome Rd with some well planted up and cared for tree pits. Eileen mentioned that some sorbus had reached the end of their life span and emphasized the importance of proper watering of newly planted trees.

Moving on into York Rise and then Croftdown, we considered the water courses running under some of these streets (visible and audible through gratings) and the green areas of LSU behind Brookfield Park.

We spent some time looking at the front gardens, trees and hedging of the “Homes for Heroes” group of streets including Kingswear, Croftdown and St Alban’s. One major issue is the different approach by Camden Council in terms of maintenance of trees and hedging between social and leaseholder tenants on this estate area. This has contributed to poor maintenance of some garden trees and replacement of hedging with ugly fencing.

 It would be helpful if Camden could encourage and support the reinstatement of the original hedging to improve biodiversity and restore the special nature of these streets.

In addition, we discussed the value of supporting tenants in the mansion blocks wanting to have window boxes-something suggested by a new member of the Greening Group who lives there.

We passed the Whittington Estate and noted the green corridors of planting along the tiered walkways and pointed out Ricky’s Wood That Works which now operates from the basement area looking onto the cemetery. There is also the “Secret Garden“, on the curve between Balmore & Doynton which may be used in future as an outdoor classroom for  Brookfield primary .

We continued along Chester Rd and mentioned the Highgate Cemetery’s 25-year plan for improving biodiversity and dealing with ash dieback. Passing the green oasis of Holly Village, we walked back towards the Heath while considering the importance of Waterlow Park and the Holly Lodge Estate in terms of the variety of planting and trees.

It was disappointing to see that a couple of the front gardens on Swain’s Lane were now wholly given over to paved or gravel car parking. We noted a couple of newish trees by the shops and agreed that more shrubs and green screening could improve this hub.

Camden planning could also encourage several large properties (including a housing association) across from Swain’s Lane shop hub to reinstated hedging

What did we learn from our walk?

We saw that greening and green corridors can develop and spread through lots of small additions and improvements as well as larger schemes.

We noted the value of various groups, large or small working together with residents, businesses and schools and sharing information and ideas.

We agreed that it was worth developing two or three simple ideas for engaging our local community:

  1. Asking our DPNF residents, schools and businesses via a newsletter and website to look out for and report sightings of hedgehogs to us and Heath Hands.
  2. Heath Hands will provide us with simple advice on how to encourage hedgehogs into gardens and estate & school green spaces (tunnels, hedging, small holes in fencing etc) We will publicise this on our website and encourage all who can, to find out more about volunteering and supporting Heath Hands.
  3. Trying to encourage hedge and house sparrows with advice on planting or improving hedging and providing nesting boxes in the right places, disseminated via our website and newsletters

Note: A link to Hampstead Heath 150 years biodiversity initiative is on the Greening project page of our website: https://www.heathandhampstead.org.uk/heath/biodiversity/

I would like to record our thanks to Heath Hands for giving us their time and expertise.

Catharine Wells 26/04/2021

Trees & hedges

Contact: Eileen Willmott, info@dpnf.org.uk

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

treesection@camden.gov.uk or planning@ camden.gov.uk

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 ‘www.camden.gov.uk/search-for-planning-applications’, 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.  

Conclusion

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.