Tree damage and emergencies

We maintain over 30,000 trees on Council-owned land including:

  • streets 
  • housing
  • schools
  • parks

Tree damage

If you’re concerned that damage to your private property is related to a Council owned tree, contact your insurer first. Your insurer will then make contact with our insurance department. We do not deal directly with claims. If you live in Council owned property and think that tree related damage is happening:

Report a repair  

Tree emergencies

For fallen trees across the public highway or dangerous/fallen Council owned trees, call our 24 Hour emergency service on 020 7974 4444.

Inspections and maintenance

Trees are inspected every 3 years, between February and October. This includes trees in:

  • the street
  • communal areas on housing estates
  • street properties
  • schools
  • parks

Trees are inspected by a tree officer who will decide whether tree work is necessary. During the 2018 to 2019 financial year we are inspecting street and housing estate trees, mainly in the wards of:

  • Kilburn
  • Fortune Green
  • Swiss Cottage
  • Belsize
  • West Hampstead

Use the map of trees in Camden to see when trees were last inspected and next due for inspection. Select the blue icon in the top left corner to search for a location. 

Tree pruning

General tree pruning works take place any time of year. We do not prune trees for: 

  • light reasons 
  • droppings such as leaves, fruit or bird droppings 
  • being perceived as too large or overgrown 
  • allergies 
  • lifting of pavement or kerbs - engineering solutions will be sought for this 

Tree pollarding 

Pollarding is the regular removal of branches and stems to maintain a smaller height and spread of a tree. This is carried out on a two or three year cycle depending on location and type of tree. Crown re-reduction or pollarding works are carried out between September and March depending on the weather. 

The main reasons we carry out pollarding works are: 

  • tree related subsidence 
  • tree damage caused by high winds or vehicle strikes 
  • structural weaknesses in the tree 
  • containing tree size for management reasons 
  • tree root severance 
  • tree decay 
  • veteran tree management 

Some tree species adapt to pollarding more readily than others, such as London Planes, Limes and Maples. Other tree species such as Mountain Ash, Swedish Whitebeam and other ornamental trees are not as responsive. They may die back over time. Any decline in the health of the tree as a result of pollarding is unfortunately unavoidable. 

Camden Tree Policy

Tree removal 

We only remove trees if they are: 
  • dead or dying  
  • dangerous  
  • involved in tree related subsidence claims, but only as a last resort 

A notice is normally placed on the tree approximately 10 days before the removal work is carried out.  

We plant replacements for the majority of trees removed. In some cases the sites are unsuitable for replanting because: 

  • underground services are too close to the tree pit area 
  • of changes in the immediate surroundings 
  • the area was originally not suitable for planting 
  • the tree was removed because of subsidence and the area is unsuitable for replanting a small tree 

Tree stump removal 

Our tree contractor deals with tree and stump removal separately due to the types of equipment used. Stumps are normally removed within 3 months and left prepared for replanting.

Use the map of trees in Camden to see trees that are due for removal. Select the blue icon in the top left corner to search for a location. 

Planting

We aim to increase our number of trees by funding the planting of at least 400 trees per year. Most are replacements for trees removed during our inspections. We also seek out new planting locations across the borough. Planting runs from October to March and covers all Council-owned land. To propose a new planting location, contact us before September.  Selection of tree species for planting is based on our aim to increase the diversity of our trees and plant the largest appropriate tree for the location.  

Tree pit replanting 

The list of tree pits to be replanted is completed annually and runs from October to September the following year. When a tree is removed, a vacant pit is added to our list to be replanted. Vacant pits can be found on the Trees in Camden map - vacant pits appear as the new replacement tree species once planting starts in October. To differentiate between new and removed trees, new trees have no inspection date.  

Young tree maintenance 

After planting, trees have three seasons of young tree maintenance. This includes weeding and adjustment or removal of stakes and tree ties. Young trees are watered for the first two seasons after planting. For their first year, trees are watered weekly from May to September, weather dependent. For their second year, they’re watered every two weeks. Notices encouraging residents to water are attached to the stakes of newly planted trees. This helps trees survive and establish their new location.

High Speed 2 replacement tree planting  

High Speed 2 (HS2) expects to remove 504 trees for construction of the new railway, including: 

  • all trees in St James’s Gardens 
  • many in Euston Square Gardens 
  • trees on streets where the new Euston station and tracks will be built 

HS2 will fund the replacement of all trees lost.  We planted approximately 90 replacement trees during October 2017 and we’ll plant 60 trees in winter 2018 to 2019. All Council-owned land is being considered for planting, including housing, parks and street tree sites. HS2 is responsible for planting around 350 trees on the land it owns. We’ll work with HS2 to ensure its replacement trees are the right size and type for their locations. HS2 set up a panel to review and challenge the removal of trees by HS2 contractors. The panel has representatives from the Council and community.

Find out more. 

Commemorative trees

You can request to plant commemorative trees on Council-owned land including:

  • parks
  • open spaces
  • housing estates

Sites are very limited in parks so we may not have space.  

Request to plant a commemorative tree

We can no longer allow commemorative plaques next to trees because of problems with vandalism and maintenance. You’re not allowed to place cremated remains of the deceased in or around the tree pit. 

Costs

The cost for commemorative planting is usually: 

  • £250 for the tree plus VAT  
  • £588.22 for an administration fee  

We will confirm total cost in writing or by phone. For planting to happen, acceptance of cost must be confirmed in writing and full payment made by cheque, payable to the London Borough of Camden.

Flowers in street tree pits  

You can volunteer to improve tree pits in your street with annual flowers by contacting the trees team. You should tie a green ribbon around the tree trunk where flowers have been planted in the tree pit. This is to let street cleaners, weed eradication personnel and tree operatives know that flowers have been planted. 

Damage to plants 

Every attempt will be made to ensure plants are not damaged due to maintenance. This may not always be possible, particularly if bulbs are planted and no flowers are visible. Removal of trees and grinding out the stump will result in unavoidable damage to plants as the stump and roots will need to be removed for future replanting. Any plants residents wish to keep should be removed during this time. Loss of plants during maintenance works will not be compensated.  

Modifying tree pits 

Residents shouldn’t build raised edging around tree pits or enhance pits with landscaping materials such as gravel or pebbles. This creates a trip hazard and can result in claims for personal injury. Any modifications will be removed as a matter of public safety. Raising the soil level can lead to additional stress or death of the tree.Tree pits with newly planted trees should not be disturbed until the 4th season. Street trees are under considerable stress to establish themselves in their new location. Any competition for water or nutrients from plants can be detrimental to the establishment of new roots and the tree’s development.