Petition to save Hatfield trees debated at council

PUBLISHED: 12:07 08 February 2019

The trees in White Lion Square in Hatfield. Picture: Marian Hurle

The trees in White Lion Square in Hatfield. Picture: Marian Hurle

Archant

Plans to improve Hatfield’s White Lion Square are to be changed so a large mature tree can stay.

As part of the £1.2million redevelopment plans for the square, which include seating, play equipment and cycle parking, Welwyn Hatfield Council had planned to remove a number of trees.

But on Monday evening a meeting of the council was presented with a petition, signed by 1,750 people, calling for three large trees in the square to stay instead of just one.

Marian Hurle, who spoke in favour of the petition, said the three healthy Maple trees were good to look at and provided shade.

She said they helped to clean the air, were aesthetically pleasing, and she said that trees could be uplifting and even helped to improve mental health.

She told the meeting that local people had been aggrieved and upset that the council had thought it was okay to remove two of them – leaving just one.

“We are the guardians of the natural inheritance for future generations,” she told the council.

“Many people who signed the petition talked of wanting the trees in the square for their children.

“Please don’t underestimate the importance of these trees to local people.”

But Cllr Duncan Bell, executive member for resources, said that keeping both trees would require a significant redesign and could increase the cost of the project.

He said concern about the removal of the trees had not been brought to any of the public consultation or planning meetings.

And he suggested an alternative that would enable one of the mature trees to remain, without making a significant change to the plan.

As part of the proposal he said the tree to the north west of the square would stay and the brick planter around the tree would be restored, with new coping stones and curved benches.

And ultimately the council backed Cllr Bell’s option that would keep one additional tree, without the need for the project to be redesigned.

Cllr Bell said the option was a sensible balance between the retention of some tree cover and the intention to improve openness – that would avoid further delay.

The plans for the square – part of the Hatfield Town Centre regeneration programme – are expected to increase the number of people who use the square – and encourage them to stay there, instead of rushing off.

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