'Replacing Far Cotton's trees will make us happier': Campaigner hands in 300-name petition to restore greenery to streets

Alice Whitehead is calling on the county council to replace felled trees in Far Cotton and establish a proper maintenance programme.
Alice Whitehead is calling on the county council to replace felled trees in Far Cotton and establish a proper maintenance programme.

More than 300 people have now signed a petition to see the streets of Far Cotton's returned to their tree-lined former glory.

Freelance journalist Alice Whitehead launched a campaign urging the county council to maintain and manage trees in the area in January.

Mrs Whitehead says studies show trees can improve wellbeing and even help the local economy.

Mrs Whitehead says studies show trees can improve wellbeing and even help the local economy.

Research suggests leafy-lined streets can reduce crime rates, slow down speeding cars and increase general happiness in places.

But Far Cotton's tree-stock has gradually dwindled over the years as deteriorating vegetation has been removed.

This week, Mrs Whitehead, 40, presented a 313-name petition to Northamptonshire County Council asking the authority to consider replanting the lost trees.

She said: "Photos from the 1950s depict St Leonard’s Road as a beautiful, tree-lined boulevard.

"In the 1960s and 70s Penrhyn Road and other tree-lined streets in Far Cotton had one tree for almost every two houses.

"When I moved here in 2006, Far Cotton was already losing its street trees with just 20 remaining in Penrhyn Road.

"Now there are only 12. St Leonards Road has one.

"Elsewhere tarmac patches are the only evidence that streets had trees."

As well as replacement of the lost trees the petition also called on the authority to carry out proper maintenance to stop "needless disease and damage" destroying the plantlife.

The county council is responsible for maintaining highway trees and will remove them if they are diseased or causing structural damage to a nearby property.

“Sometimes where there is a need for a tree to be taken down, it may not be replaced if it is in an unsuitable location," A council spokesman told the Chron.

“Where a tree is taken down the council will try and look to replace a tree elsewhere but due to maintenance liabilities we do try and ensure that a replacement tree is provided on non-highway land wherever possible."

But Mrs Whitehead says that properly selected smaller species suitable for urban areas would avoid such "maintenance liabilities."

The pros of having greenery in urban streets, she says, far outweigh the cons.

She told the council: "Numerous studies have shown people spend 11 per cent more on goods and services in areas that have trees, and businesses are more likely to invest in these locations.

"Areas with higher vegetation cover have lower rates of crime and communities that interact more with each other.

"People living on tree-lined streets report health benefits equivalent to being seven years younger, and trees increase well being and reduce mental fatigue."

The petition will be considered by the county council in due course.