An elm tree located in the ward of the Leader of the Council, Cllr Jason Kitcat, that could have been felled as part of safety improvements to the Seven Dials road junction is set to be reprieved by the city council following a protest campaign by community activists.
Councillors are being asked to agree a compromise which will spare the tree that stands on the corner of Vernon Terrace and the busy Seven Dials junction. However it means that surrounding pavements will be narrower than national standards, which have been set to allow adequate space for wheelchairs and electric buggies.
Traffic engineers have designed a solution that narrows the road space at the entrance to Vernon Terrace where the tree stands. This would enable the pavement to be widened, surrounding the tree and allow enough space for pedestrians to pass and cross.
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.
Chair of the 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.”
Commenting on the U turn, a council spokesperson, said:
“Our original intentions were laudable in that we wanted the pavement to meet the nationally-recommended minimum width for wheelchairs. But we want to balance that with legitimate concerns about the tree. Hopefully we now have a compromise that everyone can support
The 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 and council officers will continue to work with the community to keep them updated on the scheme and any concerns they have around the tree.