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Shock Tree Felling and a Proposed £36.8m Budget Regeneration Plan: Plymouth’s Armada Way

Image: William Telford, PlymouthLive

Plymouth’s Armada Way’s future is to be decided next month. Armada Way is a kilometre-long processional running directly through the commercial district in the city centre.  

Earlier this month new plans were made after the council received more than 1,500 responses about the Armada Way regeneration plans during a six-week public consultation last year. Among the proposed changes were more tree plantings, increased accessible green spaces, and more seating. The changes would require an additional budget of £22.8m to be approved, on top of the original £14m already assigned to the project.

On Monday 22 January, the council’s Growth and Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Committee looked over the plans. Though Plymouth City Council Leader Tudor Evans stated that “Plymouth is worth it”, concerning the increased budget, Plymouth Council bosses said they could not guarantee the project would stay within budget, raising concerns over the outcome of the plans.

The plans and recommendations from the meeting are to be put forward to cabinet members on February 5, before a final decision is made by the council on February 19.

The public was first consulted about the plans in September 2018 for a project to regenerate the city centre. The Council wanted to cut down trees and replace them with a greater number, costing £12.7m. In November 2022 the Plymouth City Council was urged by the public to reconsider the proposal to reduce the number of trees due to be felled.

Save the Trees of Armada Way (STRAW) wanted the council to retain as many healthy trees as possible, however, the council said only 22% were suitable for long-term retention. In February 2023 Plymouth City Council agreed to suspend all tree felling and held a public consultation open to any ideas or improvements. In a petition against the tree felling, STRAW collected 5,000 signatures.

In a shocking turn of events, the trees were felled in the early hours of March 15, making national news headlines. The then Plymouth City Council leader Richard Bingley signed an executive order on March 14, leading to all but 16 of the trees being felled. Work was stopped after a judge granted an injunction against tree felling.

Later in the month, Bingley faced a vote of no confidence over the night-time felling. The Independent Alliance Group called for him and the council cabinet to resign, stating the decision to remove the trees on Armada Way caused “harm and reputational damage”. Bingley resigned soon thereafter.

In June 2023, months after the tree felling, traders were frustrated that the felled trees had still not been cleared away, with businesses stating the mess in the area was putting off shoppers and affecting sales. Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans said the trees were due to be removed in the coming weeks, however, it was not until September 2023 that work began to clear the tree remains. Now, in 2024, the plans are finally due to be made for the regeneration project.

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Tags: #environment #plymouth #trees #greenspaces


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