AROUND 80 trees which line a park’s main avenue – planted after the North East’s biggest-ever public event – are to be felled.
Work to remove and replace the Swedish whitebeams which form a landmark entrance to Newcastle’s Exhibition Park is expected to begin later this month.
The trees have been identified as dead, dangerous or dying, in a professional tree report commissioned by Newcastle City Council’s parks and countryside service.
The avenue, lined with the 25ft tall Swedish whitebeams, is a prominent feature of the park, which has more than 500 trees.
But the Swedish whitebeams are now in such a poor condition that the decision has been taken to cut them down and replace them with a hardier species, following consultation with user groups.
The tree-lined avenue is the only remaining landscape element from the time of the North East Coast Exhibition of 1929, which attracted 4.3 million visitors.
It included palaces of Industries, Engineering, a Festival Hall, stadium, amusement park, artisans and women’s pavilions and an African village populated by 100 Senegalese.
The listed Palace of Arts, the only remaining building from the exhibition, has been bought by Tyneside businessman Freddy Shepherd.
Coun David Hardman, a member of the Exhibition and Brandling Parks’ Trust which has been working on a new vision for Exhibition Park, said: “Cutting down and replacing these trees is essential both for the future of the park and the safety of the people who use it.
“The trees, planted around the 1930s, have come to the end of their lives and become unsteady.
“I have been advised that they were poorly chosen to begin with, which is why we are going to replace them with something grander and longer living.
“I believe this will add to the beauty of the park and leave a legacy for generations to come.
“When the trees come down this area may appear rather sad and empty for a while but this is for the long-term good of the park.
“Change always challenges people but this is a natural replacement and I can reassure people it is the right thing to do as part of renewal which is needed.”
Tony McKenna, council head of leisure services, said: “ It is about securing the landscape for generations to come.
“These trees are going to die very quickly, within three or four years of each other.
“Their removal will be fairly dramatic but it is in the best interest of the park.”
The tree replacement programme is part of a £3.2m restoration of the park, with the majority of the finance coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The land for the park was acquired in preparation for the Mining Engineering and Industrial Exhibition which was held in the Royal Jubilee Year 1887.
The park’s listed bandstand survives from this exhibition, which drew 2m visitors.