WORK to remove a small number of diseased and dying trees in Chestnut Walk, by the Reading Abbey Ruins, will begin early next month.

The council's tree team will remove three already heavily pruned tree stumps in early April, as well as one larger mature chestnut tree, all of which are suffering from disease.

Around 20 other trees in the avenue will remain untouched.

Signs will be in place to notify the public of the planned work.

A 2016 inspection of the horse chestnut trees which line Chestnut Walk revealed that some of them were suffering from canker, fungal brackets and other defects.

Two trees were felled at the time and several others pruned back to prolong their life.

Following a new survey of the trees in January 2019, further major defects have been found and since they are located on a pathway, they represent a safety risk to the public and further tree removals are now necessary.

It is anticipated the remaining trees will continue to decline and further work will have to be carried out.

The long term aim will be to carry out a wider improvement scheme in the area, which could include re-planting of the avenue with a more suitable species of tree, such as sweet chestnut or chestnut leaved oak.

It is hoped that the existing trees can be managed safely until the entire avenue can be replaced in order to avoid there being a period with no trees on site.

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s lead member for culture, sport and consumer services, said: "Regretfully, the time has come to start removing these failing trees.

"We need to act now to remove any diseased trees.

"Unfortunately, horse chestnuts are subject to a range of diseases.

"Since they are shedding limbs, they represent a significant hazard to the public and the most sensible course of action is to remove them and longer term to replace them with a hardier, disease resistant species, as we have done successfully in Prospect Park."