September 30th, 2016

Removing trees won’t solve Broad Street problems – expert

A DAMNING independent report into the possible removal of trees on Broad Street has claimed any replacement trees would pose exactly the same problems for county council chiefs.

In the report seen by the Observer, Chartered Forester Jim Unwin criticised Worcestershire County Council chiefs for ‘crudely topping’ the London Planes and said regrowth hid the ugly stumps in summer but not in the winter.

Mr Unwin also called for the steel cages to be removed from around the trees and claimed they were ‘redundant’ and were ‘no reason to justify tree removal’.

In his report, commissioned by the town’s former Wychavon District Councillor Charles Hudson, Mr Unwin said any new trees would pose the same issues regarding steel cages and bases as the current species.

“The trees are currently pruned at just the wrong height: to maximise shading and light interception from windows. Any replacement trees could cause exactly the same shading problems,” he said.

The report also labelled the removal of grey paving slabs after they had been lifted by tree roots and the use of asphalt to replace them as ‘crass’.

Mr Unwin also blamed inadequate soil pits for the root growth and said the problem was unlikely to be rectified with any new species unless sections of the footpath were dug up to allow for bigger soil filled crates.

The forester suggested if the planes were retained, the offending roots should be pruned off and paving slabs reinstalled.

He also said future pruning should remove most branches facing buildings and some over roads to create a more two dimensional canopy, commonly done on continental style trees.

“Unless much bigger tree pits are provided, replacement trees may also disrupt pavers,” Mr Unwin concluded.

“The current very ugly and un-sympathetic pollarding could be improved to fit the trees to the restricted space available.

“Removal of cages and grills, surfacing tree pits with loose material, root pruning, and improved pruning methods, could be tried for a few years before the drastic measure of tree removal with all the costs involved,” he said.

Worcestershire County Council propose to remove the 18 pollarded London Plane trees and replace them with ‘more appropriate species’.

A council spokesperson said: “We have received over 230 responses to the consultation and are currently considering the outcomes.

“We would like to thank everybody who participated and will publish the report and any decision on the Worcestershire County Council website in the near future.

“Meanwhile, we are aware of the report and will also give it due deliberation,” he added.

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