STRAW Plymouth - Save the TRees Of Armada Way

Our campaign was started to try and get Plymouth City Council to incorporate more of the healthy, mature and much loved trees on Armada Way into the new design. Now most of the trees are gone, we are fighting to save the remaining ones, and attempting to hold the council to account in the courts because we believe that they acted unlawfully.

Plymouth City Council embarked on a military-style night time felling operation on March 14th 2023 to cut down our city centre urban forest. We obtained a last-minute, out-of-hours High Court injunction and stopped them, saving 20 trees.

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"These trees were the green lungs of our city."

The trees the council plan to plant will take decades to achieve anything like we had.

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Who supports us?

We have the full support of Plymouth Tree People and Environment Plymouth.

The following organisations supported our call for a pause and a review in December 2022: The Woodland Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, Arboricultural Association, Plymouth Cycling Campaign, Plymouth Green Party, Plymouth Lib Dem Party, Plymouth Civic Society, Luke Pollard MP, and an increasing number of Green, Labour and independent councillors.

What can YOU do?

Please sign up to our mailing list for regular updates.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Donate to our CrowdJustice fundraiser. So far over 1,000 kind and caring people have donated.

Write to your councillor and let them know what you think.

What were Plymouth people saying?

We have spoken to hundreds and hundreds of people about this devastating loss to Plymouth - here is a selection of what they've said.

"Mature trees are part of the magic of Plymouth, so we should seek to preserve them unless they are a danger. Many saplings don’t grow or get pulled up or damaged. So why remove them? It seems short-sighted unless there is more to this... sad."

Sue H.

"As a visually-impaired white cane user, Armada Way has never been an issue."

Daisy Mai Higman

"Look how sterile the piazza looks in comparison to the rest of Armada Way. It was a travesty that the beautiful trees and shrubs were ripped out here. Now a wind tunnel to traverse in bad weather!"

Angela A.

"This is obscene. I haven't voted for this or been consulted upon it."

Sion D.

"After a summer of record high temperatures have they considered the impact the removal of the trees will have on temperatures in the city centre in the summer months and the impact on businesses in the area."

Rebecca W.

"Do those who have planned this understand how much carbon in mature trees? What will happen to the scarce wildlife who rely on them? This seems short-sighted to me. The current tree root pits are not great designs, but most trees seem to be healthy now... It takes decades for a young tree to grow to replace the carbon storage of a mature one."

Jennifer M.

"We moved to the area 21 years ago so have watched and enjoyed seeing Armada Way develop from a stark, cold uninviting walkway to a lovely area for humans and wildlife to enjoy. To hear now that plans are afoot for those lovely trees to be felled makes me want to weep. I just ask WHY?"

John B.

"Do the proposals take advice from the Forestry Commission Urban Tree Manual? (they don't)"

Dave C.

"I hate this obsession with "a view" that will sacrifice the city's green heart and turn it into a soulless wind tunnel with a view that no one stops for or cares about because WHO'S HANGING ABOUT AT NORTH CROSS STARING AT A DISTANT HORIZON?!"

Lizzi B.

"I love this part of town. You can hear the birds sing late at night......why does everything need to be sterile? This goes against everything we are trying to achieve for this planet!"

Selena W.

"Why do the council always design Plymouth with a blindfold on?"

Stewart B.

"How bland, generic and boring. Let's keep all the beautiful trees we already have."

Clare P.

"It needs more shade, not more sunbaked stones. Tiny attempts at trees will not help cool the urban environment. Keep the established trees!"

Mari F.

"Much of that original development was closed down v soon after it was devised, but the trees have thrived and are such a joy. Please, please, please council, think again and at the very least have the courtesy to have an open discussion about why you think this should happen."

John B.

"They won't listen, they do what they want and never consult with the people of Plymouth. The people who pay their wages in a roundabout way. The people who vote them in. We should all get a chance to have our say on each new build or whatever they want to do. I hope the trees don't go, I've signed and shared the petition too."

Jennifer H.

"More concrete must be the environmentally friendly type!!! Why aren't these schemes put forward to the public for approval in a way that people can't miss it and not just advertised in a small ad somewhere."

Anthony W.

"We are on the brink of a disastrous climate emergency and you are thinking of felling trees that are just reaching a stage when they are absorbing CO2. I despair."

John B.

Our petition

Our petition, which has been signed by almost 17,000 people was presented to Plymouth City Council on January 30th 2023. Watch the video of our presentation here.

Plymouth Tree People

Plymouth Tree People (formerly Plymouth Tree Partnership) stood shoulder to shoulder with STRAW throughout the campaign.

If you live in Plymouth and are interested in trees, please consider becoming a member - it's free! You'll also learn about PTP's important work across the city.

Get in touch

If you want to help us with our campaign, if you've noticed something happening on Armada Way that shouldn't be or you just want to say hello, email us.


Also, join our mailing list:

We believe the council are greenwashing

Here are examples of some of the things they've said

"We are increasing the biodiversity by 25%"

Plymouth City Council

We say: Using the new 4.0 metric the calculation comes out at a 62% biodiversity net loss.

"To facilitate this plan, there will be an impact on the existing trees in the corridor."

Martin Ivatt, City Centre Regeneration Coordinator, Plymouth City Council

We say: An impact? Clearing every tree and shrub (bar one) from nearly 400 metres of an important urban park is a catastrophic impact.

"Almost half of the existing trees are damaging the built environment."

Armada Way Regeneration press statement, Plymouth City Council

We say: The figure of 42% which the council claims have or will cause minor damage to the built environment pertains to all 497 trees surveyed in the city centre. It is not a figure for the trees on Armada Way.

"The majority of trees on Armada Way are reaching the end of their healthy lifespans."

Armada Way Regeneration press statement, Plymouth City Council

We say: Most of the trees which were chopped down were category B, meaning they had a lifespan of at least 20 to 40 plus years, and maybe much longer with good maintenance. The vast majority of trees in the council's tree survey were classed as early-mature, semi-mature and mature.

"77 trees are being removed due to their locations, which do not fit the new design."

"Trees: Planting For Immediate Impact" poster, Plymouth City Council

We say: A clever design could have easily worked with existing trees. It's time to improve the design, creating one that works for Plymouth.

"We will be moving some of the healthier mature trees to Forder Valley."

"Trees: Planting For Immediate Impact" poster, Plymouth City Council

We say: Only 17 of the smallest trees will be moved. None of the trees being moved are mature. It's very expensive to move larger trees, and by their own admission, they may not survive the move and transplantation.

Update: With the revised plan, the council have conceded that they won't be moving any trees. Just like we said in the first place, when this campaign started.

"Immediate impact: most with girths of 35 to 40 cm"

"Trees: Planting For Immediate Impact" poster, Plymouth City Council

We say: Not "most", but less than a quarter of the proposed new trees will have this girth. Over three quarters of the proposed new trees will have a diameter of less than 3 inches. Council experts at the February consultation were telling local people that some new trees would be 40 cm wide! Obviously not true.

"Trees and woodland within Plymouth will be valued and cared for so they can play a fundamental role in the city's future."

Plymouth's Plan For Trees, Plymouth City Council

We say: We agree, Plymouth City Council. Honour your promise!

"Trees make the city look attractive, changing with every season and provide natural beauty weaving through the built environment."

Plymouth's Plan For Trees, Plymouth City Council

We say: You got it right then Plymouth City Council - get it right now.

"Trees improve our own mental health and wellbeing and make us feel better about our city."

Plymouth's Plan For Trees, Plymouth City Council

We say: Yes, you're right Plymouth City Council. Don't then rip down our existing trees.

"97 percent of Plymouth residents agreed that trees were an important feature of the city."

Plan For Trees consultation, 2018, Plymouth City Council

We say: So let's not rip down our beautiful trees and have to wait at least 30 years for the new saplings to grow.

"I want to see more nature and I am pleased that the council is looking at ways of making the city centre more nature-friendly. I am not always convinced that the best route to more nature is losing the nature we currently have though."

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport

We say: We agree Luke. Why lose what we have as part of an irresponsible plan?

How many species of tree were there on Armada Way?

There were 37 species along Armada Way at the moment, which is over twice as many as the 13 or 14 species the council plan to plant/retain. Remember: the less species in an area, the greater the chance of disease wiping them out.

  • Amelanchier
  • Apple
  • Austrian Pine
  • Birch
  • Blue Cedar
  • Cappadocian Maple
  • Cherry
  • Citka Spruce
  • Cockspur Thorn
  • Common Holly
  • Common Laburnum
  • Contorted Willow
  • Downy Birch
  • Fan Palm
  • Feather Palm
  • Field Maple
  • Flowering Cherry
  • Honey Locust
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Japanese Maple
  • Lawson Cypress
  • Norway Maple
  • Pear
  • Purple Cherry Plum
  • Rowan
  • Silver Birch
  • Silver Maple
  • Single Leafed Ash
  • Sorbus
  • Sumac
  • Swedish Whitebeam
  • Sweet Gum
  • Sycamore
  • Tree Of Heaven
  • Whitebeam
  • Wild Cherry

STRAW in the media, from local to international

The Armada Way trees story has gone national. There has been widespread coverage over all forms of media and press. The council's decision has shocked the nation and has been reputationally damaging to our city.


During our campaign, while all of the trees still stood on Armada Way, we encouraged Plymouth people to download and share posters, to put them in the windows of their homes, cars and places of work. Many of you did, which really helped spread awareness of what the council were doing to our wonderful city centre green space.


Here are some videos. There are various media appearances. One shows how the council instructed a company to cut down and chip a beautiful Sorbus and some palms at night. Another video shows just how much we will be losing. See how bare the section outside the House Of Fraser looks. The new redevelopment will take ten to fifteen years to look even this green, and decades more to gain any kind of maturity.

See more videos on our YouTube page.

Keep up-to-date with our campaign

Join our mailing list and we'll let you know the latest developments.

Thank you.