Save the Hero Trees of Kentish Town West Estate

Camden Council is planning to demolish the existing West Kentish Town estate and redevelop the area with three times the number of flats: the current proposals replace 318 flats with nearly 900 new homes, most of which will be privately owned. The price of this is the loss of the majority of the existing trees, green space and biodiversity on the site.

In order to better understand the value of the nature on the site, Transition Kentish Town has crowd-funded to enable an independent survey of the trees to be carried out. With the generous support of individuals, we appointed an arboricultural consultant from Tree Musketeers and the survey was carried out on 19th May 2019. The results of this are summarised in this report.

Unfortunately, Camden’s consultants have developed proposals that include the loss of many important trees, including A-grade oak, beech and plane trees, as well as many B-grade trees, including limes and sycamores. The current proposals are shown in red overlaid over the existing plan.

The 124 trees on and around West Kentish Town estate benefit residents in the area by providing protection from pollution and a sense of wellbeing. These trees are a vital part of the eco-system, providing habitats for many animal species and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

We believe that Camden should change its plans in order to retain the majority of the existing mature trees on the site. It will take 30- 40 years growth for newly planted trees to provide comparable benefit, and the current understanding of the climate and ecological emergency shows that we do not have this time available.

The map below shows the position of the new development (in red) that will sit on or destroy most of the trees in its construction.

Site & Context:

West Kentish Town estate was built in 1963-4 as part of a new wave of social housing built with pre-fabricated concrete panels (then, as now, off-site construction was thought to bring many benefits in raising the quality of construction). The new estate was planned around the existing trees on the site, and when finished more trees were planted with the help of the Civic Trust. The aim was to create an integrated landscape for the benefit of future residents.

The trees have now matured, but more work is needed to enhance the biodiversity of the estate. This can be done by introducing a wider range of planting, including native species, and allowing ‘relaxed mowing’ enable nature to flourish. 

More information about the proposals and generally about West Kentish Town can be found here:

“One of the key things that local residents and visitors say about our area is how many trees we are lucky to have and how they add to the beauty of the area and add to the environment including improving air quality. We need to ensure these are protected.”

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