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Tree works to be carried out in De Montfort Hall Gardens

Published on Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DOZENS of overgrown shrubs and trees in the grounds of De Montfort Hall are to be pruned or removed in a bid to restore the gardens to their original early 20th century glory.

The 7.5-acre grounds of the hall currently contain approximately 250 trees and shrubs – many more than were originally planned when the gardens were first laid out in 1913 as a formal structure of grassed areas interspersed with prominent trees and lower-level planting. 

Over the course of a century some of the extra shrubbery and trees have become overgrown and overcrowded, affecting the health of neighbouring trees and obscuring the very views of the Grade II listed hall which they were meant to enhance.

Some trees or shrubs which have been planted more recently or have grown from fallen seeds are also overcrowding or damaging neighbouring trees.

Around 50 trees are now due to be removed, around half of which are small trees or saplings which have grown from fallen seeds.

The rest are a mixture of trees with significant defects and damage, or ones which have reached the end of their natural lives and need to be felled before they become hazardous to visitors.

A further 20 trees will undergo some pruning, crown-lifting or other works to help keep them healthy and prevent future problems.

The work is due to begin on July 17 and is expected to take three weeks. It will cost about £50,000 as part of the planned maintenance programme for the hall.

The work will not affect events at De Montfort Hall, including the Simon Says… music festival, which takes place on July 29 and 30. Care is also being taken to protect the remaining trees and minimise the disturbance to wildlife.

De Montfort Hall general manager Antony Flint said: “It is a shame that we’ve got to consider removing some trees from De Montfort Hall’s gardens, but it necessary to ensure that the other trees can continue to grow healthily and in the way the gardens were originally planned.

We’ve consulted with tree experts, ecologists, landscape planners and English Heritage on this, and they agree that the planted areas of the gardens are now quite overcrowded.

“The resulting lack of light and space is having a detrimental effect on the health and integrity of some of the significant trees in the gardens.” 

A number of notable trees will benefit from the removal work, by being given more room and light to grow, including two cedar trees believed to be between 200 and 300 years old, and a giant redwood thought to be approximately 150 years old.

Leicester assistant city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, added: “We do appreciate that works like this can be quite an emotive subject and we have taken all the relevant advice we can on this. 

“Ultimately, part of our responsibility in looking after cultural heritage assets like De Montfort Hall sometimes involves this type of work.

“The end result will be a better environment for the trees and plants in the gardens, which will be closer to their original 1913 appearance and design, and also ensuring the gardens can continue to be enjoyed fully by visitors.”