Call to save Prom trees facing the chop

August 06 2013
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The city council has been urged to rethink its plans to chop down 12 of the trees that line the Promenade in one go and replace them with younger specimens.

The city council has been urged to rethink its plans to chop down 12 of the trees that line the Promenade in one go and replace them with younger specimens.

Consultation on the £30,000 public realm improvement scheme for the stretch of Gloucester Road, which also includes a 30-metre bus platform, attracted 10 objections to the removal of the trees.

Under the scheme, 12 of the strip’s existing lime trees would be felled, including those outside Ezo, the Gallimaufry, and the Blue Lagoon, and the stumps removed, with just one existing tree remaining. Replacement trees, of a minimum of 2-2.5 metres in height, would then be planted further back from the edge of the pavement.

The city council’s arboricultural officer has responded to the objections, explaining the existing trees were not “good specimens” with one found to be in poor health and the rest soon to need replacing “due to damage and infection”.

But Bishopston resident and high street regeneration specialist George Grace has raised concerns over the impact on the Promenade’s appearance as traders “wait for something better in 20 years’ time” as the proposed new trees mature and reach full height.

He said: “The current proposals represent something that could be anywhere in the world. The only way our high streets are going to survive is if they offer a unique and attractive experience. This cannot be overstated. And it starts with these trees.”

Mr Grace, who advises Bedminster’s Town Team and is meeting with the Gloucester Road Traders’ Association through his work with consultancy TownCentred, said he believes the Prom could become a focal point for the street, making the most of its wide pavement to create a place to stop for shoppers.

He added: “There is still time for a more considered and sensitive scheme to be created. We all know the Gloucester Road is long and linear but the Prom could be its heart with an appeal perhaps not matching an Italian piazza but certainly something a lot more attractive than what is being proposed.”

The council’s response to consultation feedback says it expects the new trees “to produce a more attractive street scene” and adds that moving the trees back from the edge of the road would also reduce the need for pruning, allowing the trees to grow in a more natural shape.

Redland councillor Fi Hance said: “I myself was initially opposed to felling and replacing the trees but have been persuaded by tree officers, who in the main are a knowledgeable and caring bunch, that this is a chance to provide a much-improved vista of trees that will look good for years to come.”

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “The trees need to be replaced, as our arboricultural officer advises that they aren’t thriving, and are unlikely grow well and remain green and healthy. The council shares everyone’s disappointment, but the scheme will replace them all plus one for luck. There is absolutely no plan to reduce the number of trees.”

She added the scheme, which is being funded through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, is due for completion in December.