Construction work to create a new community tree garden in Woodley precinct has been completed, with a raised brick wall installed around the four trees outside Waitrose, near the Crockhamwell Road car park.
The completion comes just in time for non-essential shops to reopen, with the Prime Minister announcing more retail outlets will be able to open from 15 June, providing social distancing can be maintained.
The paving slabs around the trees have now been removed, which should solve the problem of the roots dislodging the slabs and creating a potential trip hazard. The project was a joint initiative between Woodley Town Council, the Town Centre Management Initiative and Wokingham Borough Council. The brick wall was the preferred option following feedback from residents to the town council.
New seating will be installed in the area for visitors to the town centre by the town council, as well as a notice board in the same style as those in Woodford Park. It’s hoped it will help smarten up the town centre and help boost the local economy as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pedestrians will still be able to walk on either side of this new garden to move between shops.
Now the site will be handed over from the borough council’s contractor to the town council, which will plant up the area. The plants and vegetation to be installed in the garden has yet to be decided with current thoughts of a school community garden, a variety of grasses or even the use of moss to absorb carbon from the atmosphere or a mixture of both. Whatever is chosen will be easy to maintain.
“For many years the beautiful tree area at the Crockhamwell Road end has been marred by the serious trip hazard caused by their roots,” said Cllr Keith Baker, Leader of Woodley Town Council. “Several residents experienced shocking injuries as the roots grew and we got to a position something had to be done.
“We ended up with two choices, remove the trees or remove pedestrians from the root areas which are quite extensive. For the town council and many residents, removal of the trees was simply not an option so the concept of surrounding the root areas with a community garden started to emerge.
“As we move into the final stage of this project we need the community to get involved and there have been several suggestions including setting up a Friends of the Town Centre group and involving schools. Climate Change related options are also being considered. The area is sufficiently large enough to cater for all of these three. This has been a highly imaginative solution to a serious injury issue, which not only deals with that issue but is a highly visually pleasing feature. A classic win-win situation.”
“I hope this change will help encourage more people to visit the town centre as more and more shops reopen in the weeks ahead,” said Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport at Wokingham Borough Council. “This solution by our highways team for this historic problem in the precinct should make it safer for pedestrians as well as providing an attractive area for our residents.”
“We have been concerned for some time about the dangerous tree roots causing some very nasty accidents in Woodley,” said Brian Fennelly, Woodley Town Centre Manager. “The new Tree Garden will address this issue and has the potential to be a very attractive feature in Woodley Town Centre.
“We are delighted to be receiving lots of great ideas on how best to landscape the new garden from local residents. Suggestions for a community garden, wild grasses and a moss covering are all very interesting and we look forward to developing these ideas quickly.”