Fears town will become a ‘tarmac desert’

Tree consultant Peter Thurman in the car park which he describes as a 'tarmac desert at Waitrose Haywards Heath. Pic Steve Robards SR1718995 SUS-170814-192003001
Tree consultant Peter Thurman in the car park which he describes as a 'tarmac desert at Waitrose Haywards Heath. Pic Steve Robards SR1718995 SUS-170814-192003001

An environmental expert fears that a Sussex town could become a built-up ‘tarmac desert’ with too few trees.

And the expert - horticultural consultant Peter Thurman - is concerned that Haywards Heath could end up turning into a ‘slum’ because of a lack of landscape planning.

He is critical of the car park at Haywards Heath’s new Waitrose store which is bereft of trees. “It is yet another tarmac desert in the middle of Haywards Heath,” he said. “It’s appalling that planners don’t put tree planting in as a condition of planning permission.”

Recent changes at Sainsbury’s car park in the town had also led to a loss of trees, he said. “Thirty nine mature trees were felled and replaced by 10 small ones - half of which are now dead.”

In another spot - on the corner of Church Road and St Wilfrid’s Way - a development of new flats had gone up around a giant redwood tree “which has nowhere to grow now.”

He feared that a new estate planned near Borde Hill would suffer a similar fate with a lack of trees. “At Bolnore Village a number of trees were meant to be retained but they were not protected and a lot of massive wonderful trees suddenly died and had to be removed.”

“I’m concerned that tree planting hasn’t been carried out and it doesn’t seem to be a condition of planning permission on many sites and we are being left with tarmac deserts.”

He said trees were important in providing many benefits including oxygen, shade, shelter and ecological well-being for residents and visitors - and their importance would grow because of climate change. He asked: “In just a few years’ time, will Haywards Heath become a slum?”

A spokesman for Mid Sussex District Council said: “The council regularly attaches landscaping conditions to planning permissions to help new developments fit in with the surrounding area.

“The developer’s subsequent submissions are always considered by our tree officers to ensure they are suitable before the plans are approved. In the case of the recent Waitrose development in Haywards Heath a landscaping condition was included but part of the car park is located over the top of the store, which makes tree planting difficult, so planting was focused at the entrance to the supermarket.”