Taking action to tackle tree related subsidence in Camden

On 16 February, we will start a proactive pilot tree removal programme in the borough, as part of our tree management policy. This will help tackle tree related subsidence. Many parts of London are affected with tree subsidence, due to areas being built on shrinkable soil known as ‘London clay’. This soil shrinks when it dries and expands again when wet. Changes in temperature cause these expansions, which lead to cracks in buildings, which may go unnoticed for years.

A vast amount of Camden is built on shrinkable London clay. The worst affected areas are in the wards of Kentish Town, Gospel Oak, Hampstead Town, West Hampstead and Fortune Green. Buildings most susceptible to subsidence are older properties with shallow building foundations.

When subsidence occurs, it can cause inconvenience to residents.- Investigating subsidence claims for home insurance can be a long process, as site investigations have to be made. Repair costs can be high, and insurance companies can be reluctant to insure properties with a history of subsidence. With tree related subsidence, it is sometimes necessary to remove the tree. This can sometimes be distressing for residents, as a tree can be a significant feature in the local landscape.

At Camden, we have a robust tree maintenance programme, reducing the risk of tree related subsidence. As part of this, we will replace the trees by looking for the ‘right tree for the right site’ and from our existing species list, with more appropriate smaller species of tree. We can’t always replace the tree in the exact location because of underground obstructions/utility, but will always try to replant a tree in a location nearby. All replacement trees will have a positive contribution to the greening of the borough into the future.

Outside of this tree replacement programme, we have an exciting and vibrant tree planting programme. In the last three years we have planted, on average, 490 replacement and new trees every year. This year we plan to plant another 600 trees in the borough.


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