St Martins Precinct
DescriptionCaversham, just across the river Thames from the city of Reading, has been a seat of human habitation for over 1,000 years. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the river was bridged here sometime during the early 13th Century, and a chapel dedicated to St Anne stood on the island part way across the bridge.
Just north of the bridge, King Charles 1st fought a desperate but unsuccessful battle to relieve the besieged city of Reading, bringing thousands of reinforcements from Caversham Hill to help.
Between the hill and the bridge, the town centre is now a bustling shopping area, and at its heart, St Martins Precinct provides an outdoor retail zone. Built during the 1960s, this open square had mature trees established, which by 2015 were causing significant problems with the paving, and the buildings needed renovation.
The owners of the centre showed vision in insisting that new tree planting should be carried out to a high standard, making sure that the canopy cover should be replaced as soon as possible. GreenBlue Urban working with Barton Willmore, carefully designed a rooting system, utilising the RootSpace soil cell system which could take high loading capacity to allow for maintenance vehicle overrun, but allow full long term tree growth. Completed during autumn 2017, this large interconnected tree pit containing high-quality uncompacted topsoil was constructed, and the paving, trees and tree grilles installed.
Now this pedestrianised area gives the residents an attractive area to shop and eat, greatly enhanced by mature trees, providing shade, water attenuation, air pollution reduction and the many many other benefits that healthy trees bring to our urban environments.