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A cut too far for Frome’s “saved” iconic plane tree?


The London Plane Tree

The London Plane Tree

FROME’S iconic London plane tree underwent a huge transformation recently, after it was pruned rather more aggressively than had been expected.

The tree, in the Kingsway Precinct near Marks & Spencer, has been fighting for its life since 2013 when an application to fell it was announced. The tree – estimated to be up to a century old – has avoided being cut down, but recently underwent an extreme pruning that has provoked criticism in the town.

Frome resident, tree expert, and author of Britain’s Tree Story Julian Hight was instrumental in a petition to save the tree last year. Julian said, “The pruning seems rather excessive and I was shocked when I saw it. Considering the strength of local feeling about the tree, I expected the results to be more forgiving.

“The plane tree is one of Frome’s few major trees and we campaigned to save it for its aesthetic contribution to the town; a considerable amount of which it has now lost.

“That said, London plane trees do take well to heavy pruning so it should still grow plenty of leaves this spring, and certainly bounce back by next year. They are incredibly fast growing and are planted in towns due to their resilience to reduction and pollution.

“It does feel like someone has got it in for the tree, but we must be thankful it’s still there! It doesn’t look good now but it will certainly bounce back, and the tree protection order will help us control its future preservation.”

The ‘Save the Tree’ campaign began when the first application to fell the tree was announced in 2013, when it was claimed that the large roots were damaging nearby buildings.

The following year a petition signed by 2,744 people – 10% of the town – was presented to Mendip District Council to stop the removal of the tree. However, despite being saved and assigned a tree preservation order, it was threatened with destruction again in 2014.

Again the tree was rescued, but it must now be controlled by pruning and reduction.