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Cambridge City Council

Public realm improvements in Romsey’s Cavendish Corner

31 January 2023

CAMBRIDGE City Council has planted a street tree and installed up-lighting to illuminate the Romsey ‘R’ sculpture in Cavendish Corner.

Under the council’s tree strategy, the tree stock in the city is cyclically assessed to identify any sick and aging trees so they can be appropriately cared for and replaced where needed. This was the case of the two much loved silver birch trees that originally stood in Cavendish Corner, which were felled in 2020 due to ill health.

The newly planted replacement tree is a buckthorn (hippophae salicifolia ‘streetwise’), a robust tree that can thrive in urban environments because it can better withstand pollution compared to other trees, is able to grow in poor soils, and can manage heat stress.

The replacement tree has been planted in an engineered pit, which uses structural soil cells for root management to ensure the new tree will successfully mature in its street environment. Soil cells provide structural stability for paved surfaces, while allowing for tree roots to grow.

A single lighting unit was also installed at ground level which illuminates the Romsey ‘R’ sculpture creating a striking large shadow of the ‘R’ shape on the wall behind it.

An event was held on Tuesday 17 January, to plant the replacement tree and give residents the opportunity to find out more about the Romsey ‘R’ project, what the council is doing to increase tree canopy cover across the city and how residents can help care for trees in their neighbourhood.

Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Food Justice, and Community Development said: “Replacing dying trees is part of our city’s tree strategy so that we retain and enhance the benefit and value that having trees brings. It also allows us to introduce tree species that are more resilient and better suited to that location, so that they can have the best chance of survival. 

“It is great to see the community take an active interest in the work we are doing to increase canopy cover in the city and to care for the environment. We know that residents take an interest in our trees, and we appreciate their efforts to care for them. There are residents who have been helping by watering trees in their early years, which is very important while the trees establish themselves.

“Increasing canopy cover is one of the ways in which we as a council are helping the city to adapt to climate change, mitigate the impacts it has and support biodiversity.”

Harry Gray, co-creator of the Romsey ‘R’, said: “The Romsey ‘R’ means so much to me and co-creator artist Will Hill, because it is public artwork that works on many levels. It quickly became a local landmark for people to meet outside, this was very important during the pandemic. The Romsey R is a celebration Romsey’s railway heritage – it features the name of departure and arrival stations of train journeys important to the lives of local residents. These stations are from all over the world showing that Romsey is a place with a truly international reach.”