‘Iconic’ palm tree to be moved from roundabout despite residents’ objections

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

Transport for London (TfL) is being called on to retain “one of London’s iconic trees” as it carries out works on what it claims is the most dangerous junction for cyclists.

A scheme removing roundabouts at both ends of Lambeth Bridge, to be replaced with new traffic light systems, was approved by TfL in October, after data revealed the northern junction had recorded the most cyclist collisions in the capital.

The tree in question, a Date Palm known as The Pineapple, is required to be removed for the works to take place. Pictures from today appeared to show the tree being dug out, with signs placed nearby indicating the revamp of the area had begun.

Rather than dispose of the plant entirely, TfL has said it is instead going to replant it nearby in Pimlico.

Conservative Westminster councillor Selina Short has however questioned whether the scheme could be completed without moving the beloved landmark.

Cllr Short said: “Surely we can keep cyclists safe and protect our local landmark the Date Palm. I walk past, and sometimes cycle, this route frequently and know how much traffic flows have changed since the 20mph limit was introduced and the pandemic.

“A large group of local residents and I would ask the Mayor and TfL to urgently reconsider the necessity for these expensive road layout changes. This roundabout and particularly the Date Palm (known locally as The Pineapple) has been, I understand, described as one of London’s iconic trees.”

In addition to the two junctions, the scheme will also involve investment in the bridge itself, including repairs and waterproofing the crossing. The works on the Westminster-side of Lambeth Bridge are due to continue until December 5, with the bridge improvements penned in for next summer.

Helen Cansick, TfL’s head of health streets investment, said the work to reduce danger at Lambeth bridge is “vital” to prevent further casualties at the north junction in particular.

She said: “The palm tree is being moved to a new location in the local area, following careful consideration, in order to allow this vital work to go ahead.”

A Westminster City council spokesperson said: “Safety is the council’s top priority, and we are supporting TfL’s much-needed safety improvements at this roundabout. The existing junction has the highest number of cycle collisions in London.

“Of course, we’re sad to see this popular palm tree moved from its current location, but fans of the tree will be pleased to know it is being carefully moved to a new site in Churchill Gardens Estate.”

Pictured top: TfL is removing the palm tree so it can carry out works at Lambeth Bridge’s north junction, which it says is London’s most dangerous for cyclists (Picture: Cllr Selina Short)

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