42 new ornamental trees are to be planted in Preston’s historic Winckley Square after proposals submitted by Myerscough College on behalf of the Winckley Square Community Interest Company (WSCIC) were approved.
The planting project will be delivered by arboriculture specialists at Myerscough College in conjunction with Preston City Council.
As part of the plans, a number of hazardous trees and some specimens in decline are set to be removed.
The project has been commissioned by WSCIC, the not-for-profit company set up in 2011 to spearhead the revival of Winckley Square.
The trees and shrubs will be planted at the south side of the Square including Japanese maples, six juneberries, two holm oaks, four magnolia, two ornamental crab apples and two ornamental cherry trees.
As part of the proposal, three whitebeam cultivars and a self-seeded ash tree are to be removed to improve the structure of the tree cover, along with minor work to a declining ash tree.
The tree planning proposals follow an updated tree survey carried out in December 2012 by Duncan Slater, chartered forester and lecturer in arboriculture at Myerscough College, and Ryan Arrell of Preston City Council.
Working under the close supervision of Preston City Council, Myerscough College will be donating its expertise for free with WSCIC covering the cost of the new trees.
Duncan Slater said: “Over the years, the Square has lost its smaller ornamental varieties of trees and shrubs, such as flowering cherries, crab-apples and ornamental pears. The Square could look much more attractive and inviting to visitors, especially in the spring and summer months.
“The Square has great potential as an amenity space. It is a rough diamond at the moment due to some deterioration of landscape features but polished up it will be a precious gem of a place.”
Duncan, who is the tutor for the Masters degree in arboriculture at Myerscough College, has
been involved with the restoration of West Park and East Park in Kingston-Upon-Hull, and also produced an action plan for the conservation of Scarisbrick Park in Lancashire.
He added: “It is great for our students to have the opportunity to carry out tree work for a live client rather than just on College grounds. This is a good example of communities working together to look after our cherished green spaces.”
Gethin Owens, chartered landscape architect from Groundwork, currently working with WSCIC to develop a vision for Winckley Square, said: “Making judgments on tree populations is always a complex decision, and it’s reassuring to know that Myerscough are lending its experience to this process. Through dealing with these declining specimens and planting up replacements, WSCIC is taking the fist step to safeguarding the Square’s tree population for the long term.”
Mick Goode, a director of WSCIC, said: “Duncan’s experience is invaluable in this short-term project and our long-term tree proposals for the Square. As an enabling body, we are keen to bring together partners that help deliver positive outcomes as well as helping the production of our vision.”
“This initiative is also important as the Heritage Lottery Fund is keen to see projects that help develop skills.”
Councillor Robert Boswell, cabinet member for environment at Preston City Council, said: “The council is working with partners to improve Winckley Square and with the recent news of a successful stage one grant bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve the buildings around the square; improvements to the gardens are extremely welcome.
“Winckley Square proved last year during the Guild that it was the perfect environment to host large community events and with continued improvements and support from partners it will continue to thrive.
“It is fantastic that students from Myerscough College are going to be heavily involved in the project giving them hands-on experience, working on one of the city’s real gems. It has the feel of a real community effort.”