Blakes Walk Poplars Saved!

The poplar trees along Blakes Walk in Lewes will no longer be felled after East Sussex County Council’s decision.
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In November, ESCC announced plans to fell all of the poplar trees along both sides of the path. But, on January4 , the Council announced a new ‘management plan’ for the trees, by maintaining the height and canopy of both the poplars and the lime trees along the path for as long as the trees remain healthy.

The revised plan was developed by ESCC in partnership with the Friends of Lewes Trees Committee and other local arborists as part of a newly formed ‘Blakes Walk Tree Specialist Group’.

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Green Party Town, District and County Councillors who had objected to the planned felling, welcomed the news.

Cllr Adrian Ross and Fraser Addecott (petition starter) among the saved poplars on Blakes WalkCllr Adrian Ross and Fraser Addecott (petition starter) among the saved poplars on Blakes Walk
Cllr Adrian Ross and Fraser Addecott (petition starter) among the saved poplars on Blakes Walk

Councillor Wendy Maples said: “Huge thanks to Friends of Lewes, local tree specialists, and others for getting ESCC to agree to pruning rather than felling, and to a sensible, ongoing plan! Hoorah!”

Councillor Adrian Ross said: “This is a great result for residents and nature alike, that will preserve this beautiful and much-loved avenue. Many thanks to ESCC officers for reacting promptly to our concerns, and for working with local experts to develop a pragmatic and sensible plan for the future.

"And special thanks, as always, to the hard-working Friends of Lewes Trees Committee for their expertise and sensible advice. However, we will remain vigilant and will review details of the planned pruning works to ensure that they are necessary and sensitive.”

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ESCC originally said that the work was necessary because the trees are “impacting on the Lime trees they were grown to protect and to the footway which is becoming hazardous due to the Poplar roots growing underneath it”.

The proposals met a fierce response from residents, local organisations including the Friends of Lewes, and Councillors. They feared that ESCC were bowing to pressure to remove the trees to enhance views from the newly-built Southdowns Park adjacent, despite previous assurances that the trees would not be affected by the construction.

The Friends of Lewes Trees Committee visited the site and concluded that there was “no silvicultural, arboricultural or landscape reason for any trees to be removed”. They also noted that the poplars provide a green corridor which supports biodiversity; contribute to carbon sequestration; offer shade and a windbreak; and were planted as a memorial and to mark a historically important thoroughfare.

Friends of Lewes wrote to ESCC to share their concerns and to suggest working with ESCC to revise the tree management plan to bring it in line with current climate and biodiversity concerns and make sure that no healthy trees are removed prematurely.

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Local resident Fraser Addecott also started an online petition, which attracted over 1000 signatures in just 3 days. The petition stated that “the removal of these majestic trees will substantially alter the character of this very well used and highly popular walking and cycling avenue between Malling and Lewes town centre”.

At the time, Mr Addecott said: "This beautiful avenue of trees is a much-loved and very well used feature of the town. To even consider removing these mature and thriving trees flies against everything we know about the multiple benefits they bring to residents, visitors, wildlife and our wider environment.”