Tree felling could spell the end for Sheffield Christmas lights

Carol singing under the Christmas lights in Abbeydale Park Rise.
Carol singing under the Christmas lights in Abbeydale Park Rise.
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One of Sheffield’s prettiest Christmas attractions could be no more after this year thanks to the city council’s tree felling plans.

Residents of Abbeydale Park Rise have been lighting up the many cherry trees that line their street for more than two decades now.

People from across the city come to see the impressive illuminations, which get bigger and better each year.

But residents are worried this year may be the last. Nineteen of the trees are on Sheffield Council’s list for felling, as part of its Streets Ahead programme with Amey.

The trees were originally paid for by residents under a scheme run by the council 40 years ago, according to an Independent Tree Panel report.

Brett Flower, 44, who lives in the street, has been decorating the tree outside his house since the early 1980s.

Illuminated trees in Abbeydale Park Rise.

Illuminated trees in Abbeydale Park Rise.

“At least half of the trees in the street are lit - probably about 25,” he said.

“People’s houses are on as well. It flows from the bottom of the road all the way to the top.

“It brings a lot of pleasure to a lot of people. You notice the traffic pick up from December 1, especially over the weekends when you get streams of people coming to watch and parents parking up with their children and walking around.

“It’s a very pleasant place to be.”

Hannah Proffitt and Lucy Burkitt, both nine.

Hannah Proffitt and Lucy Burkitt, both nine.

To emphasise their love for the festive illuminations, residents this year organises a carol singing event, which took place on Saturday. Plenty of people turned up for a sing-along, mince pies and mulled wine.

“It was a very busy event and a lot of people enjoyed themselves,” said Mr Flower.

As in many cases across the city, the council has argued that the bulk of the 19 trees that are earmarked for felling in Abbeydale Park Rise are damaging the pavement or road - although six are diseased are dying.

The Independent Tree Panel - set up to scrutinise the case for each tree due to be felled - advised the council that only one of the remaining 13 trees was causing ‘significant disruption’ to the pavement, and should be removed.

Illuminations in Abbeydale Park Rise.

Illuminations in Abbeydale Park Rise.

The rest, it said, could be retained with a combination of root pruning and excavation beneath the roots.

Mr Flower called for another solution to be found.

“It’s going to be the impact of losing so many mature trees and having them replaced with a tree that will take 20 years to reach reasonable maturity,” he said.

“The impact on the street at Christmas will be devastating.”

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