Skip to main content




Dear Sean Mulryan and David Higgins,
Please change direction and find a way of building this new development without causing the inevitable negative consequences that will be suffered by residents, wildlife and our established neighbourhood ecosystem, by the axing of these mature trees. Locals have been benefitting from the health benefits and the views of these trees along the West Hampstead Overground station for countless years. Please do the right thing, rather than commit what Oscar winning actor Emma Thompson calls an act of "vandalism and ecosavagery". Your time is now - reverse public opinion - show that you can care!

Why is this important?

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Ballymore went ahead and cut down all the trees on their site. They did this without any recognition of our opinion and sentiments, so just four Network Rail trees remain. One of these is the flagship sycamore tree, which thankfully has just been given a Tree Preservation Order by Camden Council.

While the TPO is good news, this stunning tree is still very much at risk, because Network Rail has the power to overturn TPO orders without question or recourse. Therefore, the fight to save the trees must continue - in the sincere hope that we can protect this surviving sycamore from irreparable harm.

HISTORY: This is a last ditch personal plea to Ballymore Developments and Network Rail to save 35 mature, functional trees alongside the railway track at West Hampstead Overground station, nearly all of which are due to be felled by the end of January. Residents have been enjoying the unique treeline views and sunsets over the railway for aeons, but these are due to disappear all of a sudden in the matter of minutes that it takes to axe trees in the 21st century.

This is not only an effort to preserve the character and ecology of the area. It is also an appeal to developers and big business everywhere to open their hearts and to take account of the effects of their actions on living beings and nature - to consider an objective which is not just about financial gain.

There has been a huge campaign by locals to try and stop this devastation, but to date to no avail. The protests of local celebrities have been documented in The Observer and the London Standard, as well as in local papers and blogs. Emma Thompson has called the culling of the trees an "act of vandalism and ecosavagery" and Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter pleads,

"In a densely packed residential area like West Hampstead, all our green amenities are cherished and provide a much needed habitat for wildlife as well as visual relief from the enormous increase in hard landscaping …… I would urge them (Ballymore) to reconsider as a matter of utmost urgency.".

Talking of hard landscaping, to be specific, what our Downton Abbey butler is referring to is a huge concrete residential development, unprecedented in this area. Nine buildings, the tallest a boggling twelve storeys in height, will begin construction at the end of January 2014. This leviathan will be situated exactly opposite London's West Hampstead tube station and next to the Overground station. Camden Council appear to have given Ballymore planning permission carte blanche, so this is why only personal and public appeal can save the trees now. Ballymore have tried to blame Network Rail "policy" as the reason they have to cull all the trees, even those that are within feet of the railway fence. But policy is not law and they are not compelled to follow it. We also believe that Camden have not followed their own guidance as to their conditions for developers. In the planning guidance document provided by Camden to the developer (which is the basis for granting the permission) there are two areas which we believe they have not held up:

Page 6 "Ensure appropriate relationship to adjoining open space and ecological corridors and provide new open space".

Page 14 "and protect and enhance green infrastructure and urban greening".

Sadly the community realised too late that Ballymore were targetting all trees and not just "some" as stated in the public meeting two years ago. Yes, Ballymore say that they will plant new trees (74 seedlings), but obviously it will be decades before they reach the size of existing trees. They have commissioned a study, which declares that the existing mature trees are all of poor quality, one justification for this is that the trees are "self-sown". A curious statement considering that nearly all the trees in the world are self sown! The study also states that these trees, which have been there for aeons, have only about 20 useful years of life left to them. Some of these are beautiful old specimens, so this is questionable, to stay the least. It appears that Ballymore's "study" has been prepared without interest or concern for the community or the trees, it has been construed merely for the benefit of the people who are planning to destroy the area.

"West Hampstead Square" has been designed without any plans to replace the mature trees with any greenery whatsoever on the north side of the development from where the trees will be removed. This huge project has been planned as an island, without reference or care for its local habitat, either residential or ecological.

Please challenge the developers and Network Rail, for the sake of all those who face such circumstances - sign and circulate this petition!

Thank you

How it will be delivered

By email to Sean Mulryan of Ballymore Developments, David Higgins of Network Rail and Sarah Hayward of Camden Council. Considering delivering to Ballymore in person.

West Hampstead Overground station, West Hampstead, London NW6, 2LX, UK

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • The constant subjugation of nature by corporate greed & destruction is unsustainable. Those who cut or harm nature shall themselves be cut down.
  • You are not alone! Our 'Save the Downham Market and Wimbotsham Green belt campaign supports your cause. Please support ours!
  • The trees in front of the station and the specially designed wall look wonderful and make the station area really special and elegant.


2014-05-08 16:10:17 +0100

8th May now. We still mourn the loss of our beloved 35 trees. But the one with the Preservation Order, the finest tree of them all, is still standing proud. It is looking particularly lovely and is in full bloom, with trailing yellow flowers. Camden Council have told us to contact them if we see anything happening to our tree.

London Overground are determined to overturn the TPO, as they say it stands exactly where their new ticket office will be. What we would like is to keep this wonderful specimen and have the ticket office built to embrace it.

Thanks again for all your support - it's really helped in getting the Preservation Order. Please all watch it as you pass through West Hampstead.

Thank you xx

2014-03-12 17:32:10 +0000

17.26 on Wednesday 12th March. We have broken the 1,000 signature barrier! We are sorry that Ballymore ignored public opinion and chopped down ALL the trees on their site. But the battle continues, we aim to save the stunning flagship tree at the front of the site, which is the property of Network Rail. After years of trying, Camden Council were at last persuaded to place a Tree Preservation Order on this tree, which means that Network Rail have to give this due consideration before axing it. Please continue to sign and circulate this petition. People must keep standing up for the right to keep our mature trees.

2014-03-12 17:26:08 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2014-02-09 02:29:24 +0000


2014-02-06 00:49:22 +0000

00:13 Thur 6th Feb. Another milestone 700 signatures! Thanks to all! Heading to 1,000! But trees could come down any day - please keep it going.

2014-02-04 12:33:44 +0000

12.30 on Tue Feb 4 and the petition just reached 666 signatures. Be afraid, be very afraid!

2014-01-31 23:54:44 +0000

And at 23.53 on the last day of January we have reached 600 signatures! 100 in one day! Brilliant, thanks to all!

2014-01-31 16:02:06 +0000

Emma Thompson in the Standard today, sticking up for our trees again!

2014-01-30 16:53:19 +0000

It's 30th January 16.50 and Hurray! 500 signatures! Thanks to each and every one of you.

Let's keep going!

2014-01-30 16:48:18 +0000

500 signatures reached

2014-01-23 22:21:55 +0000

Today, 23rd January 2014, we have got up to 400 signatures! Let's keep them coming! More is better! Thank you all for caring.

2014-01-18 00:41:16 +0000

Hi! On Friday 17th January we have reached 300 signatures. Thanks to all! Let's keep signing to get to our next goal - 400 signatures. Have some new pictures - of the view of the trees from the Ballymore site. Not sure how to upload them........

2014-01-13 08:38:53 +0000

Thanks so much! It's 8am on Monday 13th January and we just reached 200 signatures in 6 days. Please keep signing and circulating - aim to get to 1,000 by 27th January. Just have to hope the trees will last till then. Thanks again for caring.

2014-01-08 07:52:52 +0000

100 signatures reached

2014-01-07 11:06:06 +0000

50 signatures reached

2014-01-06 22:36:13 +0000

25 signatures reached

2014-01-06 17:52:26 +0000

10 signatures reached