Plans to remove trees as part of Accrington’s £3million town square redevelopment have been backed by council bosses.
Thirteen trees of varying ages and species - including two large horse chestnuts - face the chop if the scheme goes ahead. A planning application has now been submitted by Hyndburn council for the remodelling of the land in front of the market hall and town hall, on Blackburn Road.
Other plans for the new pedestrianised square include landscaping, improved street lighting, seating and statues celebrating the town’s history.
The plans, which would see replanting to replace the lost trees, are part of the lottery-funded Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) improvement scheme.
The planning application states: “Although some individuals understandably have a strong desire to retain the horse chestnut trees, the community as a whole did not share this view and we were content the scheme proposed as the preferred option took the best approach to tree retention/removal.”
During a week-long public consultation, 41 people supported a ‘preferred option’, seeing all trees removed and replaced with new ones, and ten people backed an alternative option retaining the large horse chestnut. A further 15 people said both horse chestnut trees should be retained.
In the council report recommending the ‘preferred plan’, it said removing the trees would ensure buildings ‘of significant and historical importance’ (the Town Hall and Market Hall) would not be obscured, allowing them to be ‘the focus of the town centre.’ Retaining the trees, it argued, would restrict space for events.
Six benches with text and images showing the history of Accrington and the Pals battalion are planned along with three sculptures: a 750mm high dog representing the Pals Dog in the photograph of the Pals marching past the Town Hall; a 500mm high sculpture of Patch, the 1962 Accrington Stanley Groundsmen’s dog; and a 350mm high squirrel sculpture representing the start of the acorn trail.
Drop kerbs to assist the visually impaired and nine cycle stands are also planned, as is new traffic signage.
The proposals - backed by Hyndburn’s cabinet this week - will go before the council’s planning committee on February 1.
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