Islington trees under threat: Richmond Avenue, N1


Privately owned trees contribute strongly to the urban landscape; plane trees behind Richmond Avenue, N1, 2012

The plane trees showing behind the house in the centre of this picture are part of a group of four lofty plane trees that can be seen from surrounding streets, enhancing the neighbourhood throughout the year. They are spectacular, among the very finest of their species growing in Islington, but they are now threatened with removal because the group is supposedly the cause of cracks in a building project nearby. A long campaign by local people and council tree officers successfully defended the trees at a recent planning inquiry in February but it may be just a stay of execution.


The Planning Inspector's report makes it clear how fragile trees are when claims are made against them for causing cracks, irrespective of how structural weaknesses brought about by alterations to a house may be a prime cause of the failure. While the inspector's report is clear and thorough in its investigation of the issues, we can see that in a drying climate, unless steps are taken to ensure alterations to buildings are much more robust and based on foundations that can cope with the worst conditions, many trees may be held responsible for causing subsidence, and then be felled, leaving huge gaps in the tree cover of residential areas. Emma Dixon’s analysis of the problems set out by the Inspector is succinct and worrying.


Read the full judgment of the Planning Inspector here:


Appeal decisions, The Planning Inspectorate, 15 February 2012, (764 KB)


Questions to Islington Council by Emma Dixon, following the Inspector’s Decision, (57 KB)