Confusion after misunderstanding about tree felling along a St Albans road

PUBLISHED: 10:52 12 December 2017

Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom.

Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom.

Archant

A misunderstanding about the felling of dead trees on a major city throughfare has provoked confusion and indignance in the local community.

Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom. Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom.

Residents were horrified when signs were put up along Sandridge Road indicating some of trees lining the green were going to be cut down - they are renowned for their spectacular blossom.

Petals along the stretch commemorate the two Battles of St Albans fought in 1455 and 1461 as part of the Wars of the Roses, with alternating red and white bloom to represent the opposing sides of York and Lancaster.

But St Albans district council (SADC) is only targeting dead trees and new species will be planted to replace any that have been felled, as shrubs planted on roadsides have a comparatively limited lifespan compared to if they had grown in woodland.

Friends of Bernards Heath’s (FBH) chairman Peter Cook said some of the trees do not match the red and white pattern, but once the dead trees are removed this will be corrected: “It’s got historical significance because they were originally planted to commemorate the Battles of St Albans, so they are supposed to flower cherry or crab apple in alternating red and white.

Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom. Sandridge Road, St Albans. Blossom.

“For reasons that are not clear, maybe somebody just forgot that was the reason, some other species were planted.

“I am aware it is normal maintenance to get rid of dead ones and there’s no intention to remove the trees. What is going on is a correction of some mistake planting and removal of dead trees - there’s nothing controversial going on.”

Resident Theresa Long, 33, was one of those people annoyed by the felling: “I was really disappointed because I have lived in St Albans since I was a child and it’s one of the roads that when you go down it is really beautiful, it’s stunning. But obviously knowing they are going to replant them hopefully will mean in years to come people will appreciate them as much as we do.”

She said maintaining the colour sequence was a “fab” idea and in keeping with historic St Albans.

Head of community services for SADC, Debbi White, said the trees which had “reached the end of their natural life” would “be removed shortly or pruned to remove larger dead branches”.

“We are well aware, of course, that the trees have long become established as an attractive and much-admired feature.”

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