Abbey Street, Reading, RG1 3BA
A shady walk situated between the River Kennet and Reading Gaol’s high wall. Planted with chestnuts and enlivened with memorial gates and a love seat dedicated to Oscar Wilde.
Work will begin on Monday 17th February to remove the dying and diseased avenue of trees along Chestnut Walk and replace them with new ones.
Reading Borough Council would never fell a mature tree without significant cause and we recognise that it is always sad when mature trees have to be felled, particularly on such a distinctive and historic tree-lined avenue as Chestnut Walk.
Four trees were previously removed as they were a risk to public safety and we have been advised by our tree experts that the rest need to follow. The present horse chestnut trees are suffering from disease and other defects common now to the species throughout the UK. As such, sadly, their removal is unavoidable as the entire avenue is affected. As the trees are located on a well-used pedestrian route, they represent a current and ongoing safety risk to the public if left to deteriorate one by one, not to mention continuing closures to the path.
There are three approaches to managing and regenerating a declining avenue of trees. One is a tree-by-tree piecemeal basis. This has the advantage of retaining any less diseased mature trees, and the disadvantage of leaving a line of trees with different heights, ages and shapes. Often newly planted trees tend to develop slowly because of root competition and shading. Even if growth occurs, differential shading can cause the crowns not to develop evenly. The second method is to plant to one side of the old line of trees, and then to remove the old trees as the new ones develop. There is insufficient space along Chestnut Walk to use this approach. The third alternative is to remove all of the trees and to plant a new avenue, accepting that this in an investment from which a future generation will benefit.
With advice and guidance, we carefully considered all the options open to us and chose this route as the most beneficial to future generations. These trees will be quickly replaced by sweet chestnuts this spring, which are more robust and resilient to the issues that affected the other trees and respect the heritage of Chestnut Walk with an appropriate species. They can similarly grow up to 20 metres high so the canopy cover provided by the new trees will be the same – if not more – than is already here now.
We are also taking the opportunity to invest in new lighting and a CCTV camera along this footpath, which will help improve the feeling of security for people who use this route to and from the town centre.
We will provide updates on the progress at Chestnut Walk on this page.