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Inventory Site Record

Belsize Wood Nature Reserve and Russell Nurseries (Camden)

Brief Description

In the 1860s this sloping woodland was part of land owned by the Midland Railway Company. In 1948 the company leased it for various uses including tennis courts, nursery gardens and an industrial estate. Later owned by LB Camden, redevelopment of part of the land was under discussion from 1971, but it was not until 1982 that an architectural competition led to a scheme that provided for recreational use and housing. Russell's Nursery Estate housing estate abuts the woodland, which is partly freely accessible and partly a Nature Reserve managed as ecological woodland, having restricted access.

Practical Information
Site location:
Lawn Road
Postcode:
NW3
What 3 Words:
dated.speech.voices
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Borough:
Camden
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
woodland unrestricted, nature reserve open Wed morning & 3rd Sun of month for visits/volunteering/conservation work
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Children's activities and community events in nature reserve
Public transport:
London Overground: Hampstead Heath. Tube: Belsize Park (Northern). Bus: 168, 268, C11, 24, 46
Research updated:
01/08/2002
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.camden.gov.uk

Full Site Description

Part of the Hampstead Ridge, this sloping woodland site is a haven for local wildlife and plant species, particularly large specimen oak trees. In the 1860s the land was part of that owned by the Midland Railway Company who had built a railway tunnel beneath; in 1948 the company leased the land out for various uses including tennis courts, nursery gardens and at one time an industrial estate. In the ownership of LB Camden, from 1971 redevelopment of part of the land was being discussed, but it was not until 1982 that a competition was announced by the Architects Journal, which led to a scheme which provided for recreational use and housing. Russell's Nursery Estate housing estate was built and abuts the woodland, which is partly freely accessible with paths running through it and partly a Nature Reserve managed as ecological woodland, having restricted access.

Adjacent to the woodland on Lawn Road is an interesting piece of 1930s building design, the Isokon Flats, part of a block of 36 'minimal' flats built in 1933-34 to the designs of Wells Coates for Jack and Molly Pritchard. The modernist block was designed for single professional people as cheap but more independent alternative to digs, fitted with space-saving furnishings and units, much of it in plywood and designed by Jack Pritchard. The ground floor of the block was converted into the Isobar in 1937 by Marcel Breuer and F R S Yorke and then in 1960s became four small flats.

Sources consulted:

Michael Waite, Daniel Keech, Meg Game, 'Nature Conservation in Camden', Ecology Handbook 24 (London Ecology Unit), 1993

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ274853 (527483,185297)
Size in hectares:
0.7127
Site ownership:
LB Camden
Site management:
Parks & Open Spaces (woodland) Nature Conservation Section (nature reserve)
Date(s):
1970s
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
LBI: Isokon Flats - Nos.1, 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D, and 2-32 Lawn Road
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Parkhill
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough II Importance
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Part is Public Open Space (Small Local) and nature reserve is Private Open Space
Photos

Belsize Wood Nature Reserve and Russell Nurseries

Belsize Wood, August 2002. Photo: S Williams

Belsize Wood Nature Reserve, August 2002. Photo: S Williams
2002

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.