Work will begin on Sunday, 19 February to revamp the area around St Nicholas Square in Colchester city centre.
The work is being completed in conjunction with HAT Projects, who have designed the space, and Colchester Amphora, who are delivering the scheme, and is funded by Colchester’s £19.2 million Town Deal funding, which is aimed at regenerating the city centre and creating more functional and accessible spaces in Colchester.
To complete the work, the yew trees that are currently in the square will be removed. The council and HAT projects have sought specialist advice from independent tree experts, who have confirmed the yew trees are not in good condition, cannot be pruned or repositioned into better shape and should be removed, being unsuitable for public open spaces, as they drop berries that are toxic to animals and humans.
The wood chips from the removed trees will go to a biomass plant that produces electricity for the national grid. Bigger logs will be recycled into ready-to-burn firewood. Ensuring that the trees are removed sensitively is a fundamental part of the council’s strategy for this area.
New trees are at the heart of the plans for the space and there are four new trees in the scheme, including a London Plane and three Turkish Hazel trees. These species have been specifically chosen for their suitability for city spaces. The semi-mature trees will be planted directly into the ground, using the innovative Stockholm tree-pit system, which allows trees to flourish in urban areas.
The tree clearance is the beginning of development that will revamp the square. The trees are being removed now, to ensure works are completed before bird nesting season. Surveys will take place in March, and groundwork is due to start at Lion Walk End in early spring. The scheme will create a new and much more attractive public space suitable for outdoor events and for people to gather, fostering a sense of community in the area.
Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester City Council, said: “It is great news that we can now start the renewal of St Nicholas Square. Ensuring the space is suitable for the public to use is essential to the success of the project. We look forward to new trees that will be just right for their location and, when the work is completed, will help Colchester residents to enjoy this beautiful new space.”