Statement from Buckinghamshire Council
London Plane tree Higginson Park/Pound Lane, Marlow 14th September 2023
Following the recent fire in a London Plane tree in Higginson Park, Marlow there has been much speculation and social media commentary on the future of this tree.
Buckinghamshire Council is fully aware of the cultural, historical, landscape and ecological value of the London Plane trees in Higginson Park and has invested significant time and resources over the years into managing these trees responsibly. Following the fire, the Council has employed its own specialist teams and expert arboricultural consultants to advise on the most appropriate management of this particular tree.
Visual inspections and specialist tests have been carried out over the years to assess the density of the timber and the extent of decay, and tests have been undertaken again immediately following the fire. These surveys have confirmed the presence of Perenniporia fraxinea (bracket fungi) which causes basal and root decay and confirmed the presence of a significant hollow extending to 3 metres from the base of the tree.
The decision on the future of this tree has to consider many factors including, but not limited to, actual and perceived risks to public safety, landscape value, cultural significance and ecological value and the impact for residents, visitors, and the local amenity.
The tree’s location is an important factor in the decision; the risk of this tree failing in part or completely will have a significant impact on users of the highway and pavements, the public car park, and adjacent property. The Council, as a landowner, has a duty to manage its trees to maintain public safety.
The combination of these factors informed the decision to fell the tree and undertake replacement planting. This was a very difficult decision for all concerned.
A large crane is required to undertake the work, and this must be coordinated with SSE because the electricity supply must be turned off for a period of 72 hours to enable the work to be carried out safely. The timing for the work therefore depends on SSE but is currently anticipated to be in the next few weeks.
Officers will develop a tree management plan with local stakeholders to consider the long- term replacement plans for the veteran trees in Higginson Park and other areas in their control in wider Marlow area which will consider species, location, longevity, and climate change to ensure that trees continue to be a major landscape feature in Marlow for many generations to come. They will also explore opportunities, with these stakeholders, to make use of some of the timber from the tree, if suitable, to create a sculpture or other timber items to benefit the local community.
Parks & Green Spaces Team