Developer commits to mature tree planting at Berkshire retail site

A developer planning to redevelop a shopping centre in Reading has stressed its commitment to mature tree planting.

Image: Barton Willmore
Image: Barton Willmore
Responding to concerns raised by local residents over the redevelopment of the St Martin's Centre, Caversham, Hermes Real Estate Investment Management asset manager Matthew Chillingworth said: "No one wishes to see trees removed, we fully appreciate that.

"The issue is that the larger trees around the precinct are in an unsustainable position and are in poor condition, with roots causing a significant trip hazard, alongside major disruption to underground services."

After consultation with arboricultural experts, the developer has proposed to replace some of the existing non-native trees within the 1960s development with mature stock around 9m high within the precinct and 4m high around the car park, amounting to 36 new trees in total.

"The current trees have 1,230 tree years between them. Our proposed new trees, using modern methods of sustainable planting, will ensure the 36 new trees double this life expectancy to around 2,560 tree years," Chillingworth added.

Since acquiring the site in 2007 with a view to redeveloping it, Hermes has already replaced two dead trees with large specimens in specialist tree pits.

The new design is being overseen by Barton Willmore. Both the practice and the developer took part in a drop-in consultation on the proposals last month, which drew around 500 residents.

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