BORIS Johnson officially reopened Orpington High Street this morning by planting a commemorative tree.

Crowds filled the streets to watch as the London mayor made a speech before the planting took place in the high street at the junction of Homefield Rise, outside Barclays Bank.

News Shopper: Mayor of London planted a commemorative tree at the reopening of Orpington High Street. Picture by Nathalie Whittle

The reopening comes six months after works began in the High Street.

Mayor Boris Johnson said: “I would like to congratulate the council for what they have done.

“As I was walking through people were saying why is it so important to beautify the pavements in this way.

“Not everybody has given this a complete thumbs up but I think it is brilliant.

“The reason is because we have got to invest in the things that will make London and Orpington competitive in the long term.

News Shopper: Mayor Boris Johnson spoke of Orpington's survival at the high street reopening event. Picture by Natalie Whittle

“When I look around this great crowd, you behold their natural physical and intellectual greatness.

“It is no wonder that the idea of natural selection floated into Charles Darwin’s mind.

“It is nothing less than a Darwinian struggle for survival.

“Orpington has come up with a response to the great predatory sabretooth tiger that is the Bluewater shopping centre.”

Boris Johnson was joined at the ceremony by his brother Jo, the recently elected Orpington MP.

News Shopper: Boris and his brother Orpington MP Jo Johnson made the reopening a family affair. Picture by Natalie Whittle

Other dignitaries at the event which was hosted by the mayor of Bromley Councillor George Taylor included Bromley Council’s leader Cllr Stephen Carr.

The ceremony came almost a year to the day of Bromley Council staging an exhibition about its planned improvements.

This ran in the The Walnuts shopping centre from July 21 to July 25 last year.