Save the Queen Square tree!

New paths for Queen Square
New paths for Queen Square

I have recently walked past the fenced off lawn area within Queen Square. It is a tree spotted – obelisk centered – site which is currently getting a one hundred thousand pound makeover by B&NES to improve its look.

Restoring side gates, installing new benches, paths and boules playing areas will all enhance a public park that – despite being in the middle of a square traffic-choked ’round-about’ – is much-loved and used. They should get it back by the start of December.

The tree they are going to fell.
The tree they are going to fell.

One of the additional ‘improvements’ is the felling of an established tree. It is not diseased but just guilty of apparently blocking light and a view into the area from the Victoria Park end.

That tree was looking fabulous. It’s covering of autumnal leaves ablaze in the welcome sunlight that has warmed the city’s Bath stone facades and brought smiles to its citizens’ faces.

I  have decided l am no longer going to mutely accept the felling of a perfectly healthy tree for dubious reasons. Let it stay please B&NES.

Recent evidence of damage to a tree in Queen Square.
Recent evidence of damage to a tree in Queen Square.

While we are on the subject – let’s have proper fencing for all the trees – to stop the recent violent attacks on the tree trunks of Queen Square by a man with a dog who apparently cannot read the signs about dogs on leads.

Seems one of the reasons for felling the tree is to open up the lawn to make ‘anti social behaviour’ more visible. All l can say is that others elsewhere have reacted quickly when damage to the trees has been seen to be inflicted – so the loss of one tree isn’t going to make much difference.

The London Plane in Abbey Green surrounded by bare soil and Christmas Market huts.
The London Plane in Abbey Green surrounded by bare soil and Christmas Market huts.

The question of shade and killing grass could apply to any of the trees in the Square and l have to smile at this point. Every year in Abbey Green they lay new turf beneath the giant Plane tree and every year the grass dies. Isn’t that a bit of a waste of effort and money?

The tree they say has to go.
The tree they say has to go.

I do not approve of what is happening in Queen Square and – judging by some of your Tweets –  l can see l am alone in this.

STOP PRESS. On the day l published this appeal to save the tree – B&NES issued the following press statement:

‘Bath & North East Somerset Council’s £100,000 improvements to Queen Square Gardens in Bath are set to be completed by the end of November.

The perimeter and connecting paths will have been completely restored and the historic east and west gateways will be re-opened making the square more accessible. The improvements will also deliver refurbished benches, re-seeded lawns, improvements for boules players and managed trees to let in more sunlight.

A view of the transforming Queen Square from the first floor of the BRSLI.
A view of the transforming Queen Square from the first floor of the BRSLI.
The gap made in the fencing to re-install a west gate.
The gap made in the fencing to re-install a west gate.

Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are delighted that Queen Square Gardens have been rejuvenated. This investment restores its historic landscape and makes it much more accessible for everyone to enjoy.

“We’d like to thank residents and visitors for their patience during the improvement work and also to local businesses, in particular Thring’s and MediaClash and all those who have helped shape and deliver this improvement.”

Thrings solictiors will be hosting an opening celebration for the square’s residents on December 2, at their Queen Square office.

After Christmas, the Council also plans to improve cycling and pedestrian links from Queen Square to Victoria Park. A removable traffic island will be put in the North West corner of the square and this will help pedestrians and cyclists getting across to Victoria Park. When removed, it will allow two-way traffic to flow on the north side of the square on a temporary basis, helping the square to better accommodate celebrations and events.’

A temporary archway leading to the obelisk set up by Beau Nash in 1738 in honour of Frederick, Prince of Wales.
A temporary archway leading to the obelisk set up by Beau Nash in 1738 in honour of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

Simon Holdsworth, Managing Partner at Thrings, said: “This excellent initiative to restore Queen Square’s central garden is the first important step in opening up the square for people to use and enjoy.”
Greg Ingham, Chief Executive of MediaClash and organiser of the Bath Boules, said: “This rejuvenation will help bring a new vitality to the very heart of Bath. A revived square plus the opportunity for temporary closure on two sides will enable a very special Bath Boules in June.”

I do not call the felling of a tree ‘rejuvenation’ – even if its loss will be balanced by a new planting elsewhere – and l hope Thrings the Solicitors will really give the square’s residents something to celebrate by ensuring that the threatened tree lives on to enjoy the end of  ‘the improvement work’ too.