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Why don’t our trees merit protection?

31 January, 2020 — By John Gulliver

The magnificent magnolia tree that gave pleasure and shelter from the rain

IN the present climate crisis is Camden council losing its way?

When every tree should be regarded as a precious asset, should the council be allowing the removal of trees from gardens without consultation with the public?

As readers know, trees are an essential part of the ecosystem.

Naively, I ask these questions because a magnificent magnolia tree in Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill – in a front garden of a house once owned by the TV chef Jamie Oliver – suddenly vanished last week.

After enquiries I am left with the question: Is the council’s tree policy fit for purpose?

This is a hard question because in general, hitherto, the “tree” department has been efficiently run under a well-thought-of official.

The tree has now vanished from the front garden of a house in Regent’s Park Road

I declare an interest here: From time to time I struck up a friendship with this exotic magnolia and its intoxicating foliage as I would shelter under it from the rain while waiting for a taxi.

But, apart from its adornment of the area, didn’t it merit protection from a marauding predator?

Did it get it? Here there is doubt. While the contractors of lengthy works now being carried out at two houses fronted by the tree applied for permission last October, this appeared to have been granted without open consultation with the Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee.

They were simply “alerted” on the regular planning list.

I understand the roots were causing the ceiling of a vault below to crack – and this clinched its fate.

I gather too that while the council may regard an application for removal of a tree as a “planning application” with all the serious legal atmosphere that generates, in fact it is regarded by the council officials simply as a “notification”.

The contractors told me the tree’s removal was granted on condition that it be replaced. But this obviously will take time to implement, and years before the tree grows to the height and splendour it once had. And the question is: Have we got the time as the climate crisis deepens?


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