W1W trees planted in Great Portland Street

Marylebone, 25 November 2009

The first batch of trees pledged by the local residential and business community has now been planted in Great Portland Street.  This coincided with the launch of the UK’s 35th National Tree Week and a celebratory tree planting in the street by The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; assisted by Tim Rollinson, Director General, Forestry Commission; Alisdair Douglas, Chairman of the Board, The Tree Council; Mark Field MP, Cities of London & Westminster; and Julian Maslinski, Chairman and Mrs Moy Scott, vice-Chairman, Westminster Tree Trust.

Hilary Benn MP on GPS

A short film has been made of the event.  Click on the image below to see the planting in action!

We were also delighted to have our local Councillors Harvey Marshall and Jonathan Glanz with us to mark the event.  The planting took place in front of a large crowd of well wishers and local school children from Portland Place School.

The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for the Environment addresses the community

Julian Maslinski, Chairman, Westminster Tree Trust, also spoke to the gathering.  The text of his address follows below:

Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome and thank you very much indeed for coming. It is most encouraging to see so many people here who either live or work in London W1W and are committed to the planting of trees – as well as a number of other interested parties and well wishers. Today is, of course, the beginning of National Tree Week, launching the start of the winter tree planting season.

Westminster Tree Trust – a registered charity run entirely by volunteers – was established in 1982, and raises funds largely from residents, businesses, other commercial organisations and grant making trusts, in order to plant trees within the City of Westminster.

To appreciate how trees can so vastly improve the streetscape, one need look no further than Hallam Street, where, earlier this year, as

Phase 1 of the W1W Tree Planting Initiative, 40 Chanticleer pear trees were planted. In due course, these saplings will grow into mature trees, not only beautifying the area with splendid greenery, but also promote bird life, improve air quality, help to reduce noise in a heavy traffic corridor and provide shade from the summer sun to pedestrians – in other words helping to create an even more pleasant place to live, work and visit within the built environment.

The W1W Tree Planting Initiative, of which Hallam Street was  Phase 1, originated in the very heart of the community – residents and businesses – then joined by Westminster Tree Trust and Westminster City Council, all working together in partnership.

That same partnership is now addressing Phase 2 of the Initiative, Weymouth Street and Phase 3, Great Portland Street, New Cavendish Street and Devonshire Street. These are, of course, subject to all necessary local authority consents.

The W1W Tree Planting Initiative would not be possible without extremely generous donations from the local community, in particular Ridgeford Properties, a contribution from the Tree Trust, together with financial support from the City Council. Recently, Westminster Tree Trust heard from Groundwork London, also a registered charity, which works closely with the Greater London Authority and the Forestry Commission, that they are interested in making a grant to the Trust towards proposed Phase 2 of the Initiative – 50 trees in Weymouth Street.

Groundwork London suggested today’s tree planting ceremony here in Great Portland Street, which has been organised by Westminster Tree Trust, the W1W Tree Planting Initiative and Westminster City Council.

We are especially privileged to have with us this morning The Right Honourable Hilary Benn M P, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Secretary of State, we are most grateful indeed to you for taking time out from your extremely busy schedule at such an early hour.

A further pleasure is having here today our Member of Parliament, Mr Mark Field.

As well as this, we are pleased to welcome Mr. Tim Rollinson, Director General, Forestry Commission.

Very special thanks are due also to Mark Gazaleh, a local resident and co-ordinator of the W1W Tree Planting Initiative, and, of course, Paul Akers from Westminster City Council Tree Section. Without all their work, commitment and expertise, we would not have got thus far with this Initiative, which will benefit the neighbourhood for many decades to come.

And now, without further ado, I will invite the Director General to say a few words.

School children from Portland Place School then completed a second tree planting, and a lively question and answer session with Paul Akers about planting and protecting trees in cities.    This was followed by constructive community meeting which was made possible by the gracious hospitality of Villandry Restaurant.

The community is focusing its efforts so that trees finally arrive in Weymouth Street ( Stage II of the Initiative ),and then also find a home in both New Cavendish and Devonshire Streets.  Furthermore, it is hoped that a further stage for Bolsover Street (Stage IV) will be announced very shortly.  Activities to resolve footpath issues and tree planting at the north end of Great Portland Street are still being actively considered.

The Great Portland Street Stage would not have been possible without the support received from Westminster City Council and Westminster Tree Trust.  The Initiative is most grateful for the financial contributions made to it by the local resident and business community.  The donors include Ridgeford Properties, The Langham Hotel, Villandry Foodstores and Restaurant, Pizza Express Restaurants, Infinity Motorcycles, Epic Management Ltd, International Students HouseVirgin Media Television Ltd, UKTV, Iberica Food & Culture, Finers Stevens Innocent,Waitrose Supermarkets, Percy & Reed, Inanch Hair Design, Amazon Properties Ltd, DeMartino, Weymouth Court (c/o Charlie), Cavendish Conference Centres, Dr and Mrs Len Selby, Lord Stevens of Ludgate, Mrs Barbara Cantelo, Ms. Elizabeth Scott, Mr. Christopher Seery, DeMartino Restaurant, the Residents of Hallam Court and 105 Hallam Street.

Photo Album of the event:

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