Birmingham & Black Country

Anti-terror benches to see century-old Birmingham tree felled

London Plane tree in Broad Street
Image caption The London Plane is thought to be the oldest in Birmingham city centre

New stone benches to prevent a Berlin-style terror attack will see a century-old tree cut down in Birmingham city centre, the council has said.

The London Plane, in Broad Street, is thought to be the city centre's oldest tree at up to 140 years old.

It will be felled as part of a £10m revamp of Centenary Square.

More than 1,000 people backed a petition to save the tree, the last of 99 commissioned by former mayor Joseph Chamberlain.

Another 24 trees in the area - which is close to popular sites such as Birmingham's library and the Repertory Theatre - will also be cut down, but 59 new ones will be planted to offset the losses.

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Image caption More trees will be planted in the city centre to compensate

The decision was made at a full meeting of the city council.

Ian Ward, deputy leader of the authority, said the depth of the foundations for the benches - which will run along the edge of a water feature in the square - would affect the roots of the London Plane tree.

"It's a very historic tree and no-one wants to see any tree removed needlessly, but in this case it is to do with keeping the public safe," he said.

In December a lorry was deliberately driven into Berlin's Christmas market, killing 12 people. It has led to towns and cities across the UK taking steps to protect public areas from similar attacks.

Mr Ward said other counter-terror measures would be worked into the square alongside the benches, with work at the site expected to be unveiled in 18 months.

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