Ten new trees set to return to a Northampton street after campaign success
Following years of campaigning by residents, a once greenery-lined Far Cotton street may see its urban trees reinstated – in the first major planting for half-a-century.
The news comes after a recently released report revealed the trees in Far Cotton to have decreased by 58 per cent over the last 60 years.
The planting is planned for Penrhyn Road this autumn, as part of a pilot project launched by the Save our Street Trees campaign group in collaboration with The Woodland Trust, Northampton Borough Council and the county council.
“Tree planting has been allowed to languish for five decades – but this is all changing now thanks to the campaign and the renewed commitment of Northampton councils,” said resident Alice Whitehead, who founded the Save Our Street Trees campaign in 2016.
“It is incredibly exciting to think that our urban roads could once again become the beautiful tree-lined streets they once were – with all the benefits that come with it.”
Joseph Coles, Street Tree Lead at The Woodland Trust, said: “It’s been fantastic to work with Alice on this pilot project to reinstate lost street trees, and we’re really excited that it may become a reality in Penrhyn Road this year.
"Lack of appreciation, shrinking budgets and simple neglect means our street trees are disappearing and it’s up to all of us to stand up and demand change."
According to the University of Northampton’s Far Cotton Street Tree Report, commissioned by the campaign group – and the first of its kind for Northampton – the number of trees in Far Cotton has decreased from 457 to 193 since the 1960s.
St Leonards Road has seen the most significant drop with just one out of 43 trees in the 1960s remaining.
It is hoped a public consultation will take place in October to canvas Penrhyn Road residents on which trees they would like to see planted.
A shortlist of four trees, which includes flowering prunus, hornbeams and field maples, specially grown for narrow urban streets, has been created.
Joanna Wright, senior lecturer in geography and environmental science at the University of Northampton assisted Nuffield student Ria Berry in putting together the report.
She said: “We hope the report findings will help drive home the message that our urban trees are an important benefit to us and something that needs our attention and protection.”
Alice added that the Penryhn project won’t be the last.
“If the project succeeds, we will push for it to become a blueprint for further street tree projects across Northampton,” she said.
“The university report has made it very clear tree numbers have dropped significantly – and it's not unreasonable to extrapolate that this is a pattern repeated across Northampton.
“Planting trees should not be seen as a cost but an investment that sees returns, both financially, environmentally and in the health of residents. As well as supporting wildlife and well being, other studies have shown that businesses are more likely to invest in locations with tree cover, areas with higher vegetation have lower rates of crime, and street trees reduce water runoff, wind speed, heat loss from buildings, pollutants and greenhouse gases.
"Therefore allowing tree numbers to fall is exposing residents to more air pollution and other harmful effects, reducing their quality of life and ultimately costing the council money.”