IT WAS conceived as a continental-style tree lined boulevard, providing shade and colour for shoppers and coffee drinkers - but it has led to a very British row.
A total of 20 trees along Whitton High Street are due to be uprooted to make way for replacements which Richmond Council leaders claim will be more attractive and more suitable for the location.
The plans are part of an ongoing £1.7 million regeneration of the busy shopping parade, which the council suggests will herald a return to its 'glory days'.
But they have upset one opposition councillor who is appalled by the loss of healthy mature trees and claims people were never consulted about the move.
Liz Jaeger, Liberal Democrat councillor for Whitton, claimed the original plans, on which the public were consulted, 18 out of 22 existing trees being retained and 37 new ones added. She said the current mature trees provided welcome shade and did a far better job of cutting air pollution than their planned replacements would.
"I call on the council to reconsider and consult further before this very controversial plan goes any further," she added.
The proposed new trees are part of efforts to smarten up the street, including resurfacing the road, improving pavements and sprucing up shopfronts, partly funded by the Mayor of London.
The council claims a review of existing trees showed a number were unsuitable in that location, hence their planned removal.
It said the replacements would be ornamental flowering pear trees, which have white flowers in spring, turning a fiery red in the autumn.
Councillor Virginia Morris, Richmond's cabinet member for environment, said: "As well as improving the town centre's appearance, these new trees will also play a role in our ongoing efforts to tackle pollution and bring cleaner air to the high street."
The council has already replaced lampposts in the High Street and transformed a number of shopfronts, with 15 more in line for a makeover this autumn.
Pano Constantinedes, who owns Pano Hair Design, in the high street, said the investment had transformed the area, which he claimed was in danger of becoming a 'ghost town'.