Pic: the endangered elm at Seven Dials
A much-loved elm tree with some years of life ahead of it was at risk of being felled as part of safety improvements to a dangerous round-about in central Brighton and Hove.
Green politicians are welcoming the tree’s likely reprieve by Brighton & Hove City Council.
City councillors will consider a plan to keep the elm tree that stands on the corner of Vernon Terrace and the traffic-congested Seven Dials junction.
City council traffic engineers have designed a plan that narrows the road space at the entrance to Vernon Terrace where the tree stands.
This would enable the pavement surrounding the tree to be widened and allow enough space for pedestrians to pass and cross.
The pavements will be narrower than national standards, which have been set to allow adequate space for wheelchairs and electric buggies.
There had been earlier concerns that the tree would obscure pedestrians’ view of traffic from a new zebra crossing, but the new proposal effectively creates a one metre wide pavement on either side.
As a result drivers and pedestrians using the new crossing will be able to see each other far better.
A gap between the tree and a nearby wall would have to remain at around 1m compared to the recommended minimum of 1.2m.
Green Chair of the Brighton & Hove Transport Committee, Councillor Ian Davey, said, “It is clear that this tree is much-loved by the local community, so I am delighted that our transport team have been able to re-design this part of the scheme.
“It’s not perfect, but we have found a way to incorporate the tree within a much wider pavement, with a smoother surface.
“This fully addresses the visibility concerns whilst improving accessibility for those with disabilities.”
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion constituency, which takes in the Seven Dials junction, said, “This is a hugely encouraging example of how local residents can make a real difference, and of how a local council can listen and change its plans when there’s enormous support for a much-loved landmark in the community.
“My thanks to city councillors and the council officers for working so hard to keep this beautiful elm tree flourishing hopefully for many more years in this traffic congested neighbourhood, and to residents and campaigners for showing the power of local communities”.
Councillor Jason Kitcat, leader of the city council and a local councillor for the area, said, “I was delighted at the last Full Council meeting to propose a way forward which went to the council’s Transport Committee. As promised, council officers worked hard to achieve a viable solution and that has now been produced;I look forward to the committee supporting the proposal to save this tree, which recent community campaigning has demonstrated is greatly cherished by local people.”
The council’s transport committee is expected to approve the layout changes at its meeting on April 30. Work on other parts of the scheme is already underway.
Council officers will continue to work with the community to keep them updated on the scheme and any concerns they have around the tree.
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.