Friday, October 12, 2012

Street trees on Olton Boulevard East

Following complaints from residents about the tree growth in Olton Boulevard East, I arranged a site meeting  this week with Amey's trees officer and the local highway steward to discuss what has been done and what needs to be done. They have confirmed that pruning is urgently required to the street trees along the length from Victoria Road down to the junction with the Warwick Road/Gospel Lane. This should have been done, but was reported as complete thanks to an administrative error. It should be completed over the next four weeks or so - weather permitting. We also checked on a bush on the corner of Anson Grove, which has been reported as obstructing the view of drivers - this bush was actually the remains of a tree which should have been properly removed some time ago. It has now been hacked back and the stump will be removed in due course.

The trees along here will be pruned up to a height of about 6m and will have basal growth removed.

It was a particularly interesting meeting from the point of view of somebody whose gardening knowledge is limited, to say the least. The old policy of pollarding trees of a certain age has now been replaced by one where the overall tree shape will be maintained, but this is only carried out as required - probably every 15 years or so. Pollarding actually leads to more aggressive growth and leaf fall and attracts more aphids. More regular maintenance involves controlling the basal growth - the sprouting around the base of the trunk - and lifting the crown (which will be done to the trees on Olton Boulevard). This removes the lower levels of branches and twigs to give improved ground clearance. Trees will also be dealt with where they are threatening to damage property, but they are not pruned for light reasons or to improve television reception for properties behind the trees.

The Amey contract has also led to considerably greater clarity about what species of trees can be used on the highway and where they can be planted. Large central reservations will be planted with a range of trees, but traditional street trees will be restricted to a small number of species that are suitable. As it is contractual, it is also binding on developers, so trees that exhibit 'antisocial behaviour' in terms of other residents or road users can be properly controlled.

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