Trees in Kew could do with your help

Tree Management in Kew

Update 05/07/2018

Richmond Council planted over 600 trees over the last two years and though regularly watered, the exceptional long spell of hot dry weather is a challenge. If there is a new tree near you, please do help to  quench its thirst. You can see the Council’s appeal for support from all of us, with information on what to do, here:

Update 10/04/2018

Richmond Council have confirmed that they will be planting over 500 trees across the Borough this year – a significant number. They expect to plant  between 500-1000 trees per annum for the foreseeable future to recover trees lost over decades.

Update 02/04/2017

Kew Society talk on trees in the Kew area.

Craig Ruddick, Arboricultural Manager for Richmond and Wandsworth Councils, gave the Kew Society another helpful talk on 22 February 2017 to update us on what is happening with trees in the Kew area. Here is a summary of some of the questions asked and the answers he gave.

Q – Where does one go to find out whether a tree has a preservation order on it?

A – The Council’s contact centre are able to inform on whether trees are affected by Tree Preservation Orders and/or Conservation Areas. The contact centre can be contacted by telephone on 020 8891 1411 or email


Q – Are there any areas of “ancient woodland” around the Kew or Richmond area?

A – There is no ancient woodland in Richmond however sites are present across London, further information can be found at the Forestry Commission’s pages here.

Q – Maintenance of new trees – how do you prevent builders’  damage such as washing concrete into the soil / or dog damage such as bark stripping and branch chewing – creating wounds? Would you use local children to take responsibility to water trees in streets (this makes sense in Alexandra Road where the trees are being renewed mainly for the next generation to enjoy and you could teach them about environmental changes, stomates/water going from root to shoot/ stress reduction/air quality improvement/ flooding reduction/ shade and increased time shoppers spend in retail areas – link to homes for birds, bats and insects.  Also, simple information points for street residents such as trees aid health, cool us down in heat waves (!) and why water run-off is important.  Labelling of the trees is surely a must.

A – It is difficult to stop builders from depositing concrete into the public highway Fortunately it does not appear to be such common occurrence that it is affecting the tree stock.  Education and cross-industry information sharing will hopefully bring an end to such practise.  Where builders are found to damage trees the Council will investigate and take appropriate enforcement action. Dog damage is often a consequence of anti-social activity. Where it is found, the Council will take action, such as erecting warning signs alerting to the problem. This has been effective in deterring the perpetrators.  The Council would certainly encourage children to participate in caring for trees. As part of a recent initiative all new trees will be sporting a watering label encouraging the community to provide supplementary water.

Q – What are the street trees at most risk through climate change currently?

A – A warming climate will undoubtedly affect trees that are not able to cope with higher levels of water loss and prolonged periods of drought. In recent “drought years” we have seen the native silver birch and rowan struggle to establish which has resulted in increased rates of failure. Drought periods induce physiological stress meaning that trees are not as well equipped to defend against other pests and diseases .  One of the biggest threats from a warming climate is that the UK will provide an environment in which damaging pests can thrive.

Q – What is the number of trees you envisage being planted in the next 10 years?  Can Kew lead in a Village of Trees project – comparative to Greater Manchester’s “City of Trees” plan?

A – We know that there are many opportunities to plant trees in the Borough over the next ten years however in order to arrive at a number we need to undertake a survey, this will enable us to identify meaningful long and short term targets.  A survey is planned to coincide with the new Parks & Open Spaces contract due to start February 2018. Opportunities for projects will become clear through this survey. The Council is open to proposals from the Borough’s residents.

Q – Is it a possibility to put Tree Preservation Orders on trees in private gardens, in some sort of vain hope of maintaining a visual amenity for a terrace of houses. Our house has a Tulip Tree which flowers every year for almost a month, and an Indian Bean Tree, which also flowers and of course attracts the Parrots !! They eat the beans.

A – The majority of Tree Preservation Orders are served upon private trees. Where notable specimens exist and there is a known threat of removal, the Council are able to act to protect and safeguard them. This is in accordance with guidance associated with the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).

Q – Might I ask Craig if the Council are going to replace the dead Liquidambar outside Kew Newsagents, Kew Piazza beside the Station this winter please?

A – The tree is on our list to be replaced this year, most likely in October 2017

Q – Is there nothing that can be done about tree roots lifting pavements? It is a very annoying, expensive and dangerous problem.

A – As long as we wish to retain trees we cannot stop the roots of established specimens from lifting pavements.  Where pavements are disrupted the Council seeks to remedy the issue and make safe surfacing through repairing and re-aligning surfacing.  All new trees are planted with root directing barriers in an attempt to influence roots away from surfacing, thus minimising disruption, associated costs and improving the appearance of footpaths.

Q – I would like to ask if there is any facility from either the Council or BAA to plant more trees in the borough to ameliorate the proposed increase in noise and pollution from the expansion of Heathrow.

A – The Council is investigating opportunities to undertake tree planting to improve air quality; this is to identifying species that are efficient at trapping pollution as mitigation.  In addition to looking for opportunities to plant more trees we also wish to understand how we can target specific issues such as pollution through planting appropriate species; in identifying areas to take such action we are also able to apply for grant funding.

Update 20/01/2017

Trees in Alexandra Road

Richmond Council have notified us that as part of their regular tree inspection programme they have identified 9 trees in Alexandra Road, Kew, for removal, with pruning works due to the remainder. Residents in Alexandra Road are being informed and consulted on replanting with a map and photographs showing suggested species for replanting.  The consultation, map and photographs will also be available on the Richmond Council website.Tree officers will visit Alexandra Road on Tuesday 24th January at 10.30 to answer any residents questions.  A further evening meeting will be held on Thursday the 2nd February at North Sheen recreation ground pavilion (19:30 – 20:30) for those unable to attend the day time meeting.

The Council have said that this level of tree removal is something they are unhappy about undertaking, but believe essential for health and safety.  They are keen to listen to residents and have the opportunity to discuss the work.

Questions about the work should be directed to Jane Crowther, Arboricultural Officer at Richmond Council:

Update 2/12/2016

Tree of Heaven at St Winefride’s church

The application to fell the tree at St Winefride’s church and replace with a more suitable tree was approved by Richmond Council’s Planning Committee. We think this is a sensible outcome given the damage the current tree is causing.

Update 18/07/2016

Tree of Heaven at St Winefride’s church

We have written to support the application by St Winefride’s church in Leyborne Park (ref 16/T041/TPO) to remove the tree preservation order, fell the tree and replace with a more suitable tree for this location. The detailed report submitted by the applicant sets out the structural damage this tree is causing, above and below ground. The tree of heaven is very prominent but we think that a clear case is made for removal in line with the policies Richmond Council adopts for the management of the trees it is responsible for in public spaces. Replacement with a more appropriate tree will make up for the loss.

Update 9/05/2016

Plane tree in Kew Village

The diseased plane tree between Mia Wood and Starbucks has now been felled for the reasons set out in the previous update. Here is photographic evidence of the extent of the decay and the fungus. Felling images 06.05.2016

Update 21/04/2016

Plane tree in Kew Village

Richmond Council have let us know that 1 of the London Plane trees in the Village, outside Mia Wood and Starbucks, has been found to have extensive decay in the main stem. The tree reacting to this decay can be seen from the ground in the form of swelling and discoloration between 4 -7metres above ground. This could cause the tree to partially fail, creating a risk to people using the area which is heavily used by pedestrians.

The Council have considered the extent of decay, the size of the part that could fail and the surrounding area before reaching a decision on how best to manage the tree.  In order to make it safe, a significant proportion of the crown would have to be removed, leaving a heavily reduced specimen that would require regular maintenance and leave a tree which would not be in keeping with the rest of the avenue at Station Parade. They have concluded that the best course of action is to remove the tree. It will be replaced with another London Plane tree which they expect to plant in the new planting season in November/December. The new tree will be 2.5-3 metres high when planted. Plane trees are relatively fast growing.

The fungus is suspected to be Fomitiporia punctata, a species that is relatively new to the UK, first being identified in 2008, Forest Research, who are particularly interested in this fungus, will take samples of the felled tree in order to study the pathogen and how it may have affected the specimen.

Other on-going maintenance tree works will also take place in Station Parade and Station Approach between the  25th of April and the 6th of May.The majority of the work is light pruning, such as crown lifting, to keep the vista of the roads open and pruning back from buildings ensuring the trees have suitable clearance. The tree outside number 5 Station Approach will be reduced by 2-3m on all sides to aid in reducing the size and weight of the crown to help ensure the lean into the highway is stabilised.

To conduct these works groups of parking bays will be suspended and a couple of trees a day will be dealt with to keep disruption down to a minimum.

Update 06/02/2016

Re-planting felled trees in Kew

In response to a question from members we have confirmed with the Council the latest timetable for re-planting felled trees in Kew.

In the planting season just finishing, 205 trees were planted across the Borough. This is fewer than usual whilst the Council’s revised strategy for planting is being tested out. The Council will be conducting a survey in August in Kew to identify where new trees are needed, including in the streets notified to them by members at the event we organised in November last year. The survey will be complete in time for the new planting season and we will be notified of the planting plans.

You can see details of the Council’s tree policy here

Update 13/01/2016

London Plane Tree outside 5 Royal Parade, Station Approach

Kew parade plane tree

One of the issues raised with us by several Kew Society members was the fate of the London plane tree outside 5 Royal Parade which seemed destined for removal because of the angle of lean into the road resulting in the tree being struck on several occasions by vehicles.We are pleased to be able to report that the Council has now completed a re-evaluation of the tree at our request and have let us know that the tree will be retained.

The Council considered whether there was a need for any alterations to the road layout to prevent further contact from vehicles. They have concluded that in order to retain the tree, the best approach is to communicate with the local shop owners asking that planned delivery drivers are warned of the obstructing tree. This in combination with a sign on the lamp column directly in front of the tree when approaching from Sandycombe Road will raise awareness for drivers reversing to park beneath the tree, hopefully preventing contact. The lean of the tree has also been re-assessed and the Council do not believe there has been significant movement since an inspection in 2013. Historic street view images show that the tree has been leaning at a constant angle since at least 2008. A crown reduction is planned to reduce mechanical stresses on the root system and allow for safe retention. The Council will also carry out a measurement to enable them to monitor the angle of the tree and any movement over time. The disruption to the pavement from the tree roots will be dealt with through periodic repair.

In summary the Council will be retaining the tree, pruning the canopy to alleviate mechanical stress, measuring the angle on a repeat basis, liaising with shop owners over deliveries and placing a sign on the lamp column in front of the tree to warn delivery drivers of the leaning stem. The condition of the pavement will continue to be monitored by Council street scene officers.

We are very grateful to the Council for taking account of residents’ concerns and for such a positive response.

Update 24/11/2015

Successful Tree Consultation between Kew Society Members and Richmond Council

Several members have raised with us concerns they have over the felling of trees in Kew. These mainly centred on  a lack of knowledge in advance of tree felling alongside our roads and in our green spaces and of what the intention was for re-planting. Some 40 members came to an event we organised  to meet Craig Ruddick, Arboriculture Manager, Parks and Open Spaces at Richmond Council. A summary of the questions members had in advance of the meeting is attached here: Members questions on trees.

Craig was able to allay many concerns, confirming that trees are only felled where there is good reason and that all trees felled will be replaced. Members raised questions on pruning in private areas such as the Gloucester Court estate, on the Port of London responsibilities for tree maintenance on the revetments along the river embankment, and on clearance of growth  along the towpath.

The Council, are keen to engage with the community and hear views to inform their tree strategy. Their current strategy can be viewed here. A number of improvement are underway, such as making tree removal information available on-line as well as a register of tree planting proposals, including ideas submitted by the community. We will be keeping in touch with Craig to update our members on these further developments.

We are grateful to Councillor David Linnette and Councillor Meena Bond for helping with the event and to Paul Davies and his team at the National Archives for once again so efficiently providing the venue and facilities for the presentation.

Update 8/2/2015 (ref 14/TO982/TCA)

Sycamore behind the Tap on the Line pub

Richmond Council have secured a revised application to protect the sycamore behind the Tap-on-the Line. Following our representations opposing the felling of the tree, it will now have its crown reduced instead.

Update 14/1/2015 (ref 14/TO982/TCA)

Sycamore behind the Pap on the Line pub

The Kew Society rarely comments on trees but proposals to fell the sycamore behind the Tap on the Line pub seemed unnecessary.  The tree is very visible in the Village and from the Kew Gardens train platforms. We asked for more evidence that damage was being caused to buildings by the tree. The Council have confirmed that the application to fell the tree has been withdrawn and a revised application made for trimming the crown.


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