Field maple trees on Howland Street.
Howland Street with two semi-mature field maple streets either side of the road. The tree on the left for was due to removed after a request by property developer Derwent London. But the tree on the right was cut down by mistake. Photo: Linus Rees.

In a month where we experienced the hottest July temperatures ever recorded the cooling effect of trees is needed more than ever. You would think, then, that Camden Council and its contractors would be more careful with these important green assets. Not so, it seems.

For a flourishing semi-mature field maple tree on Howland Street in Fitzrovia has been cut down by mistake by a tree maintenance contractor working for Camden Council.

Camden’s own tree contractor felled the wrong tree on the corner of Howland Street and Whitfield Street. Photo: Linus Rees.

In 2021 Camden Council gave planning permission to property developer Derwent London to demolish and redevelop the Network Building on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Howland Street.

A construction management plan was then submitted requesting the removal of a field maple tree on Howland Street and a ornamental pear tree on Whitfield Street to make it easier for the developer to demolish the building. 

Permission was granted for a semi-mature pear trees to be cut down in Whitfield Street. Photo: Linus Rees.

Both the trees were semi-mature and in good condition according to Camden’s own database of trees in the borough.

The developer has agreed to plant replacement trees and additional ones after the new building is completed as part of its planning permission.

The Charlotte Street Association community group lodged an objection with Camden’s planners against the felling of the trees.

On the morning of Friday 29 July contractors working for Camden Council arrived to cut down the two trees. But they cut down a healthy tree across the road by mistake.

They finished the job by going on to cut the other two trees requested for removal by Derwent London.

Howland Street after the two nine-metre high trees were cut down. Photo: Linus Rees.

Fitzrovia News initially understood that this was a mistake made by council officers who incorrectly instructed the tree contractor. But Camden Council is blaming the contractor.

“The contractor has confirmed that it incorrectly felled the tree in question. This is despite the council’s tree section providing the contractor with the correct details of the two trees to be removed,” said a Camden council spokesperson.

“They have apologised for this mistake and as detailed in their contract will plant a replacement tree at this location, as part of the council’s tree planting programme, this winter which they then maintain for three years at their own expense.”

Camden said it provided a map of the two trees to be removed to the contractor. The species and size of tree to be replanted will be decided on by the principals set out in Camden’s tree planting strategy.

Camden’s planning department recently sent out an email to community groups asking for their help in improving legislation to protect existing trees.

“In 2019, Camden declared a climate and ecological emergency and held the UK’s first Citizens’ Assembly on the climate crisis. Trees are an essential part of the fight against climate change. Whilst planting new trees is essential, we also need to protect the ones we have,” wrote Elizabeth Beaumont of Camden’s planning team in June.

Yet it seems Camden is too incompetent to look after trees it has direct control over.

Only a year ago at nearby Goodge Street, Camden Council cut five of its own street trees in half apparently to allow buses on diversion from Oxford Street. 

These incidents would be comical if it wasn’t such an environmental disaster for the neighbourhood which has a lack of street trees compared with other parts of the borough.

Bloomsbury ward, which includes Fitzrovia East, has a tree canopy cover of about 14 percent according to the Forest Research ward canopy map. The average tree canopy cover across the borough is about 23 percent according to Camden Council.

Details of trees removed

Howland Street north side. Permission granted to fell tree.

Number Of Trees1
Sequence19
Scientific NameAcer campestre
Common NameMaple – Field
Inspection Date13/07/2022
Inspection Due Date2025/2026
Height In Metres9
Spread In Metres6
Diameter In Centimetres At Breast Height23
MaturitySemi-mature
Physiological ConditionGood
Capital Asset Value For Amenity Trees£3,804.59
Carbon Storage In Kilograms68.7
Gross Carbon Sequestration Per Year In Kilograms4.1
Pollution Removal Per Year In Grams121.3
Field maple on Howland Street. As listed at https://www.camden.gov.uk/trees

Whitfield Street. Permission granted to fell tree.

Number Of Trees1
Sequence37
Scientific NamePyrus calleryana ‘Chanticclere
Common NamePear – Chanticclere
Inspection Date13/07/2022
Inspection Due Date2025/2026
Height In Metres7
Spread In Metres3
Diameter In Centimetres At Breast Height15
MaturitySemi-mature
Physiological ConditionGood
Capital Asset Value For Amenity Trees£1,213.66
Carbon Storage In Kilograms24.1
Gross Carbon Sequestration Per Year In Kilograms2.3
Pollution Removal Per Year In Grams24.8
Chanticclere pear on Whitfield Street. https://www.camden.gov.uk/trees

Howland Street south side. Felled by mistake/incompetence.

Number Of Trees1
Sequence21
Scientific NameAcer campestre
Common NameMaple – Field
Inspection Date08/07/2022
Inspection Due Date2025/2026
Height In Metres9
Spread In Metres6
Diameter In Centimetres At Breast Height21
MaturitySemi-mature
Physiological ConditionGood
Capital Asset Value For Amenity Trees£2,596.33
Carbon Storage In Kilograms44.9
Gross Carbon Sequestration Per Year In Kilograms3.2
Pollution Removal Per Year In Grams68.3
Field maple on Howland Street. As listed at https://www.camden.gov.uk/trees