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Planting trees on our streets: Retreefit campaign

  • by JW

“Calling on Government to provide the necessary resources to Local Planning Authorities for the retro-fitting of trees in existing spaces and communities.”


There are good reasons to put trees on our urban streets:

Planting trees on our streets – Vision Group for Sidmouth


Not least that the powers-that-be think there are good reasons:

“…homes with green spaces and new parks at close hand, where tree-lined streets are the norm and where neighbours are not strangers” (Prime Minister, Planning for the Future)

96% of planners say trees are important to their work – RTPI survey, January 2021

“We are… changing the law so that all new streets that are built in this country will be tree-lined” – Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing

RTPI | About the campaign


This snippet comes from a new campaign from the Royal Town Planning Institute – as highlighted in their press release from earlier in the week:

The Government’s focus on the vital role of trees in new housing developments should be expanded to include existing properties, says the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

While welcoming plans to ensure residents in new developments have access to ‘tree-lined streets’, the RTPI points out that all communities should benefit from the many positives of living within close proximity to trees and nature.   

To ensure all people, no matter where they live, benefit from the aesthetic joys, positive environmental impact, air quality improvement and wellbeing bonus of trees, the RTPI has today launched a #ReTreeFit campaign, calling on Government to provide the necessary resources to Local Planning Authorities for the retro-fitting of trees in existing spaces and communities.

RTPI calls for more tree planting on streets | Highways News


Here’s more on their campaign:

More Than Just A Pretty Trunk: How Street Trees Enhance Complete Streets | Michigan Complete Streets CoalitionWhy do we need to “ReTreeFit”?   

The UK Government have emphasised the role of trees in new development

The RTPI welcomes the focus on ensuring trees are provided within new developments, so residents have access to the aesthetic joys and wellbeing bonus of trees. However, planning is about the entirety of the built environment, not just new development.

The majority of the population will live in homes already constructed

Just as in the debate around retrofitting home heating/insulation, the majority of people in the country will continue live in currently existing properties. Many of these houses do not currently have adequate access to trees, so it is essential that while we ensure those in new builds have access to trees we don’t forget about the majority of the population.

What would ReTreeFitting look like?

ReTreeFitting will have to be place-specific as not all pre-existing roads will be able to take trees. In some cases, ReTreeFitting will require planners to examine spaces where trees were originally poorly planned and eventually removed. However, planners and tree experts will be able to identify the optimal solution for each space that will ensure residents have greenery of some form, as well as trees located within easy reach. This is why planners are so crucial to a successful ReTreeFit: we cannot simply place trees into existing schemes without thought.

ReTreeFitting will require resourcing from the UK government  

As discussed later in more detail, many local authorities have lost their designated tree resource. Planning departments are also underfunded, so there is often not sufficient resource to deal with non-fee earning activities like tree planting. The RTPI calls on the UK Government to back our call for “ReTreeFitting” existing spaces and communities, and to provide the necessary resources.

RTPI | About the campaign


It is about “The Right Tree in the Right Place”:



The campaign has received a lot of attention in the professional media:

Government must expand its tree-planting scheme, says RTPI – Air Quality News

RTPI: Trees should be planted in all streets – new and existing | The Planner

Government must expand its tree-planting scheme, says RTPI – Planning News

RTPI calls on Government to line existing streets with trees | Horticulture Week