METAL railings around trees in Petersfield Square are to be removed ahead of plans to replace uneven paving stones.

Two trees in Petersfield Square have been cordoned off since December 2015 as paving stones displaced by roots were considered a tripping hazard.

This month, uneven stones will be removed and the area under the trees will be temporarily improved with a covering of tiger mulch – a rubberised material resembling loose wood chippings.

These will remain in place while a comprehensive masterplan for the town centre, proposed through the Petersfield Neighbourhood Plan, comes forward.

The work is part of a long-running project to deliver the Petersfield Neighbourhood Development Plan – supported by East Hampshire District Council (EHDC), the South Downs National Park Authority, Petersfield Town Council and the Petersfield Society – including the community’s aspirations to uplift the town centre spine.

Julie Butler, EHDC’s portfolio holder for customer relations, said: “The safety of residents of Petersfield is always our first priority, so the metal railings around the trees have been a necessary addition to The Square.

“But now the uneven stones are being replaced by tiger mulch and I am happy to see these unsightly railings taken away and those corners of the square opened up again.”

Margaret Paren, chairman of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “It’s been good to see the people of Petersfield come together as a community to agree this temporary solution taking into account both people’s welfare and how much these trees are loved.

“We’ll continue to work with everyone involved to find a permanent solution as part of Petersfield Neighbourhood Plan’s proposals for the town centre.”

The work to remove the railings and lay down the tiger mulch is due to take place today.