The view of St Paul's Cathedral from Waterlow Park

Closed 7 Dec 2023

Opened 19 Sep 2023

Feedback expected 29 Dec 2023

Results updated 28 Feb 2024

An engagement undertaken in the autumn of 2023 asked the public to respond to the proposal that a lime tree be height reduced in order to open a new view of St Paul’s cathedral and generally enhance views of London. T 

The Trees and Views Group, founded by the Park Friends Group, advocated for the proposal as a way of retaining a view of the cathedral which is over time disappearing behind tree growth.   It was supported by the Friends of Waterlow Park and all local stakeholders who had been approached. The Trust Advisory Group had considered the proposal and also recommended that it proceed to the Trust.  The Trustee for Waterlow Park requested a wider public engagement exercise, to research what the wider public opinion would be about the proposal.

The was a strong response to the online engagement and we would like to thank everyone who responded.  The results indicate that the public was unconvinced by the proposal, seemingly prioritising the preservation of the lime tree.

Outcome of trees and views engagement – Waterlow Park Trust


Trees framing the views of London towards St Paul's Cathedral have been a feature of Waterlow Park since it was donated to the people of London in 1889, but you may have found it increasingly difficult to spot the familiar cathedral dome as they have grown into the view of the London skyline. With the passage of time the views of St Paul’s Cathedral are now ‘glimpsed’ through the tree canopy of the park and may disappear in the future.  This developing situation was recognised more than a decade ago by the Friends of Waterlow Park who formed a ‘Trees and Views’ Group. 

Waterlow Park was given in trust by Sir Sydney Waterlow in 1889 to the people of London as a ‘garden for the gardenless’. The Waterlow Park Trust is a registered charity with Camden Council the sole Trustee. The Trust has an Advisory Group made up of local stakeholders. Waterlow Park Trust Advisory Group  Camden Green Space manage the park. 

Trees are currently managed under the Council’s Tree Policy, which does not support the pruning or removal of trees for the obstruction of views, and is based on arboricultural best practice. Trees help to keep our air clean, cool our neighbourhoods, provide habitat for wildlife and help to tackle the climate emergency. They also contribute to the landscape character of the Park. Tree planting is reviewed by the Trees and Views Group with particular care taken to avoid new trees obscuring key views which change over time as trees grow. 

This survey intends to research public opinion as to whether the Trust should consider a proposal to reduce a specific Lime tree in the Park to enhance and preserve the skyline of London and a view towards St Paul’s Cathedral.

Why your views matter

Please read an explanation of the proposals, below:

Proposal A - a significant height reduction of one lime tree to open a new viewpoint of St Paul’s from the path near the statue of Sir Sydney Waterlow and preserve the status of Waterlow Park as a unique vantage point above London. 

Current view from statue:

Ilustration of Proposal A - after tree works from statue:

Current view from proposed view point:

Ilustration of Proposal A after tree works from proposed new view point:


  • Opens a new viewpoint of St Paul’s from the path near the statue of Sir Sydney Waterlow.
  • Preserves and enhances status of Waterlow Park as a unique vantage point above London.
  • Significantly enhances views of the London skyline walking along the path.
  • Responds to public feedback on the importance of views.


  • Significant work to a mature tree for an aesthetic reason is not good arboricultural practice.
  • Reduction in the tree’s ability to capture carbon and air pollution impact.  
  • Loss of tree canopy and some wildlife habitat.
  • Will need regular maintenance to control grow-back in order to retain the view


  • Some risk the lime tree may not recover from the work and die

Proposal B - Not to undertake a significant reduction to the lime tree illustrated as above.



  • Maintains maximum tree canopy and the associated carbon capture and wildlife value.
  • No immediate or long terms costs.


  • St Paul’s will no longer be visible from the park in a few years’ time (without unexpected loss of mature trees and assuming continued growth).
  • No re-opened skyline views from the path. leading to a sense of increasing enclosure within the Park over time.


  • Potential for visitor disappointment/lower numbers if Waterlow Park does not retain a reputation as a prime location for appreciating views of St Paul's and the London skyline.

As ever, different schemes have trade-offs, so your responses to this public engagement will be key in determining the approach to adopt.

What happens next

The results of the engagement and online survey about the view of St Paul's Cathedral will be analysed and used to inform a decision about whether works to the Lime tree should be undertaken to help maintain the view of St Paul's Cathedral. The 'trees and views' group will report back to the Trust Advisory Group who will write a report for the Counci's representative for the Waterlow Park Trust. Once a decision has been made, the outcome of the engagment work and subsequent decision will be published.


  • Highgate


  • Residents


  • Environment