Landmark Abbey Fields tree felled for safety

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A landmark tree in Abbey Fields has been removed after sparking safety fears when a heavy bough fell onto a parked car last year.

The large red oak tree in the corner of the car park was removed by council workers on Wednesday after fears over safety around the busy High Street junction.

A section of the pay and display car park was cordoned off to allow for the large scale felling operation, which included a large crane and traffic management.

And while many have 
expressed sadness at the loss of the tree which some believe is hundreds of years old, councillors said the trunk will stay local and the wood will be used to enhance play and park equipment in the fields.

Ward councillor George Illingworth (Con, Abbey) said despite public sadness at the loss, there was no other option but to have it removed due to the problems inside the tree and safety hazards.

“It sadly has to come down, and it is sad,” he said.

“It was a landmark but it was not fit to stay. There is no long term future for the tree and safety has to come first.

“It was a dramatic removal, but the trunk will be used in the play area and so in a way, we are not losing it completely.

“We are carrying out a lot of planting work this year and a lot of work is being done to improve Abbey Fields.”

The tree will be replaced with a Zelcova Serrata which will eventually be of a similar size to the Oak.

Last year, a large bough fell from the tree onto a car, causing significant damage and leading to safety concerns for members of the public.

A Warwick District Council spokesman said while the trees has suffered extensive damage through illness, the main issues are over safety and the close proximity of cars in the refurbished parking area.

As Abbey Fields is a designated Ancient Monument, English Heritage needs to be consulted of all major works such as a tree removal.

Any replanting work also needs to take into account the historic status.

The Friends of Abbey Fields, who help run and manage the space, expressed sadness over the move.

But after calling in an expert to try and save the tree, they agreed that it must be removed for safety reasons.

A spokesperson said: “We will certainly be sad to see this beautiful tree lost to Abbey Fields but look forward to seeing the new replacement in its full autumn glory in the coming years.”

Timber will be used for projects across the district, and will remain on site until its relocation. It is expected the new tree will be planted in the coming weeks.

* The Red Oak will be replaced with a Zelcova Serrata in the coming weeks.

* The tree was chosen for its colours and will eventually be a similar size and shape to the Oak.

* The new tree will also have small leaves which it is hoped will help with paths and car park management.

* The breed is non-native, as was the former large Red Oak.

* Further planting works of Lime Trees will be carried out at Abbey Fields to enhance pathways and walkways and complete improvements to the ancient monument site.