CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Bird lover Bill Oddie asks for permission to cut down trees causing cracks to his Hampstead home

Former Springwatch star tells CNJ: “I’d prefer to live in a tree, really"

16 December, 2016 — By Ella Jessel

Bill Oddie has cracks in his house

WITH its array of bird-feeders dangling from tree branches, lush plant-life and collection of ponds, wildlife expert Bill Oddie’s garden is an oasis for his feathered friends.

But the former Springwatch presenter’s mini-nature reserve has grown so successful it is threatening to take over his own habitat – an attractive 19th-century house in Hampstead.

The Town Hall has been notified that Mr Oddie wants to chop down three trees in his front garden because the vegetation is causing damage to his property.

Long cracks have began to appear in the Victorian tiled hallway, the ceiling and the walls of the house, caused by “subsidence damage” – where the ground moves underneath causing foundations to shift.

Mr Oddie said he would be sad to see his trees go but that he had no choice but to fell them. “There’s been some cracks in the house and we went through the process. Mr tree man came around. I don’t regard myself as having a choice in it if it is deemed to be causing subsidence.”

The ornithologist added: “I’d prefer to live in a tree, really. It pains me every year when they cut the trees back, but at the same time as I get older I am getting more and more reasonable. People make such a fuss about cutting one down – they say there’s the ozone layer getting thinner, but let’s deal with things that are clear and are genuinely affecting every park and nature reserve.”

A report sent to the council by consultancy MWA Arboriculture recommends the removal of three trees, an ash, sycamore and a viburnum, one of which reaches six metres high.

It reads: “Consideration has been given to pruning as a means of mitigating the vegetative influence, however in this case, this is not considered to offer a viable long-term solution due to the proximity of the responsible vegetation.”

Mr Oddie, who had to notify the council of his plans because they fall in a conservation area, said he hoped that when trees came down he could use the branches for his artwork. “I dragged a branch from Hampstead Heath the other day, it looks like the Loch Ness monster,” he said.

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