Street trees supplied to regenerate south London borough

Hillier Trees is proud to be part of the major, ongoing, multi-phase ‘Elephant Park’ project that aims to regenerate the Elephant and Castle area of London and the London Borough of Southwark. Over a period of around 10 years, Hillier will have supplied 1,100 semi-mature street trees to support this remarkable initiative. 

The Elephant Park development project is the brainchild of multinational construction, property and infrastructure company Lendlease. It is a £2.3 billion regeneration programme on 28 acres of land in the centre of Elephant and Castle. Through it, Lendlease intend to make this vibrant area of London one of the most exciting places in the capital to live, work and visit. It has been designed by landscape architect and urban design firm Gillespies and, in late 2012, Hillier were invited to tender for the supply of all street trees. 

“The brief was extraordinary in its scale and ambition,” comments Caroline Swann, account manager at Hillier Trees. “At the heart of the project is the Elephant Park development by Lendlease. As part of the contract awarded to them by Southwark Council, they also committed to greening up the entire Borough. Urban development projects occasionally require a number of ‘off site’ trees within the proximity of the main development, but this project goes further and will transform the whole area.”

New trees at the Salisbury Estate

Hillier was awarded the contract for the supply of 1,100 semi-mature trees, to be delivered as required over a period of approximately 10 years. “Lendlease have very strong environmental credentials and biosecurity was an important consideration for them,” says Caroline. 

Larger trees, at 20-25cm and 40-45cm girth were specified for the project. This was, in part, because Lendlease had committed to attaining a certain Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT) to Southward Borough Council – through which, amenity trees are given a value as public assets. This is the first time a CAVAT commitment has been made on this scale.

A community planting day at the Newington and Draper Estates

Community tree planting in the London Borough of Southwark
Community planting at Newington and Draper Estates

Other vital elements of the contract award and delivery of the project were traceability and year-round delivery and planting. “The trees for this project have been selected rootball from our field tree nursery and then sent to our Broadmead container tree nursery in Hampshire,” says Caroline. “Lendlease and Gillespies have individually tagged and numbered every single tree. These trees have been called off for delivery by landscape contractor Gavin Jones by number as required, requiring expertise and due diligence from our Broadmead team.” 

Trees planted around the Heygate Estate

As a result of this detailed tagging and delivery schedule, Lendlease has been able to create a dedicated trees map for this project ( It shows the exact planting location and species of every single one of the 1,100 trees. 

Hillier is pleased to report a high success rate with planting of the project to date. Planting is due to continue until approximately 2022, when all 1,100 trees will be able to be enjoyed by residents and visitors to Southwark. 

New trees planted along Rodney Road

Paula Gervey, Public Realm Development Project Manager at Lendlease, comments; “Hillier Nurseries has been working with the Lendlease team on the Elephant and Castle project for five years now. The trees supplied have all been top quality semi-mature trees that have been specifically containerised for the project. Hillier Nurseries has been very professional and offered great customer support throughout the project.”

Street trees planting in London Borough of Southwark
Trees on Rodney Road

Key Trees

Specified tree varieties for the Elephant Park project included a number of flowering trees that would bring real enjoyment to the local community. Several pocket orchards have also been created throughout the streets; urban parks, several of which have integrated play areas for children. In these areas, mature apple trees have been specified to allow the community to enjoy the trees throughout the seasons, from admiring the blossom to picking the apples.

  • Liquidambar styraciflua: A large, hardy tree with spectacular autumn colour. Popular for avenue and street planting, but also makes a fantastic specimen tree. 
  • Prunus avium ‘Plena’: A medium wild cherry variety, one of the loveliest of all flowering trees. Its branches are wreathed with drooping, double pure-white flowers in late April to early May.
  • Prunus ‘Snow Goose’: An upright, columnar cherry variety with single, brilliant-white flower blossoms in April and leaves in warm shades of marmalade in autumn. A great street tree for providing seasonal interest in tight locations.
  • Prunus ‘Sunset Boulevard’: A tough, upright, cherry tree that suits most soil types. Spring blossom opens to a profusion of single white flowers that remain longer than many other cherry blossoms. It has spectacular autumn colour — as its name suggests, all the fiery shades of sunset. 
  • Pinus sylvestris: The only native pine to Britain. It has a distinctive two-toned trunk as it matures, with needles in greens and blues. Establishes in even the most difficult and extreme conditions.

Read more about the Elephant Park project and view the Elephant Park Trees Map.

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