Emma Thompson joins Ballymore tree row

It’s been quiet of late on the Ballymore building site at West Hampstead Square. This has meant a stay of execution for the trees that have caused so much heated debate over the past couple of months.

Emma Thompson at the 2011 charity cricket match
Photo via @bubela

Now, one of West Hampstead’s most famous residents has waded into the debate with a letter, published in the Ham & High this week, which she’s given me permission to print in full here.

An open letter from Emma Thompson to Sean Mulryan, Chairman & Group Managing Director of Ballymore Developments and Peter McCall, Construction Director


I am a long-term resident of West Hampstead (54 years) and have watched as over the years, development has all but removed any green spaces and most of the life-giving trees from the area. I understood from the Council that your development was set to include the trees that give pleasure and vitally – oxygen – to the area but I now understand that you are planning to chop them all down.

Please do not indulge in this act of vandalism and eco-savagery. It’s totally unnecessary and you will endear yourselves greatly to this community if you listen to their desires in this matter.

No-one wants to lose the few trees we have. Their survival is of the utmost importance. Your development will be infinitely more attractive with the trees in place. Your recommendations stated that you would protect and enhance the ‘green infrastructure’ – which it now seems you had no intention of doing. I understand all too well the way these things happen. Give lip-service to the ‘green’ bits and then when everyone has forgotten about the agreement, lop it all down.

Do not be tempted to do this. It won’t help you and it will anger the community.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely yours
Emma Thompson (actor/writer and conservationist)
Local resident

I think we all look forward to Ballymore’s reply, which I’d be very happy to publish here.

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  • Anonymous

    Great to see Emma weighing to this debate. Stalwart of the local community.

  • Anonymous

    As a local resident, i'd rather Emma Thompson focused her energy on resolving the rubbish problem in West Hampstead.

    Surely rubbish not being picked up is more of a health hazard than cutting down a few trees.

    • Some issues appeal more to people than others. The rubbish is undoubtedly a problem and a LOT of people are complaining about it to Camden, who have the power to fix it. The issue of removing ALL the trees from a building site, when not strictly necessary, is of longer-term consequence and also worth raising awareness of. I’d like to live somewhere that still had some greenery AND had clean streets. Unrealistic to expect someone to throw their weight behind every cause I think.

    • How great that Emma Thompson cares enough about our local area and the trees to take the time to write a letter about it. Keep your criticism for those who care neither for the trees nor the rubbish. She is my eco heroine now! Thank you Emma, and may Ballymore be shamed into doing the right thing.

  • Anonymous

    Ballymore have misled the public into believing that only a few of these mature trees would be removed. They have even conned their buyers by including pictures of these trees in their marketing literature. I bet their directors live somewhere leafy! Shame on them for depriving West Hampstead of these mature trees with all their health benefits, including removal of carbon dioxide, shading and cooling.

    • Anonymous

      Brilliant of Emma Thompson to give this issue her support. I wonder how many of the thousands of commuters who use the Overground station every day realise that all the trees on the embankment on the southbound side have a death sentence hanging over them. Hopefully those who do care will now make their voices heard…..

  • Anonymous

    Great. Stand by for "Emma Thompson saves trees". As if the fate of 32 sycamores (a tree type ill suited to the urban environment) is somehow going to ameliorate the visual impact of 6 huge blocks of flats. If you want sycamores, and no right thinking tree person would, you can have a full bushy set within 5 years. (Anonymous, not famous and only lived here 26 years).