DIARY: Poetic justice saves sycamore tree

A poet has helped to block a north London housing scheme after objecting that it would obscure her view of a tree that inspires her writing. Dinah Livingstone was among a group of Camden Town residents to complain that the proposed four-storey house on a disused builder's yard represented "severe overdevelopment".

Planning officers at the London Borough of Camden were less appreciative of the tree's inspirational qualities. They recommended the development for approval, saying that it was "difficult to prove any noteworthy harm to residential amenity". But the scheme was rejected by councillors after the residents insisted that the house would block light and interfere with privacy.

Livingstone told the planning committee that the view from her balcony of the sycamore tree in St Martin's Gardens would be ruined by the building and that its retention is vital in stimulating her poetic muse. "Even bailiffs cannot take away the tools of your trade," she said.

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