Horsham Unlimited

Potted trees are to be chopped from the main shopping streets of Horsham as the first phase of the town’s face lift gets underway next week.

Large tree pots will be removed and relocated from West Street, Middle Street and north and south of the Shelley Fountain overnight on Monday October 1 and Tuesday October 2.

Horsham District Council has explained this change will remove trees which have been ‘deteriorating for some time’ and ‘open up sight lines and space for pedestrians’.

However, shoppers this week have described the decision as ‘a waste of money’. Hannah Watts, 20, from West Parade, Horsham, said: “If all we’re left with is benches and bins it won’t look nice. I think it’s a waste of money.”

A Christ’s Hospital resident said he felt it was important to keep greenery in the town. “It’s nice to have a bit of nature”, said John Graham, 34, of Two Mile Ash Road. “Removing them to let customers see the shops seems like a bit of a spin.”

Meanwhile, Mr Boon, 68, who lives in Guildford, said he enjoys shopping in Horsham’ because it is a ‘beautiful town’. “We love Horsham. They should spend their money on looking after the trees. If they were cleaned out rather than used as ash trays they would look better.”

The removal of trees will effectively be the first in a series of works that will lead to a budgeted facelift for West Street in Horsham in summer 2013.

Helena Croft, HDC’s cabinet member for communication, special projects and Horsham town, said: “We and others in the town have recognised that the current pots and planting have been deteriorating for some time.

“By removing them now we will be opening up sight lines and space for pedestrians in time for this Christmas and it gives us a head start when we come to address the street’s ‘new look’ on site next year.

“We will also take the opportunity to experiment with the layout of the existing street furniture so we can get a feel for some of the layout options ahead of implementation of next year’s uplift scheme.”

The eight best trees and their pots in the Shelley Fountain area will be kept, being temporarily relocated before being placed in new positions that allow for better use to be made of the area by the Saturday market and town events.

A central aim of the facelift scheme is to be a catalyst for further private investment in shops, in a similar way to how the upgrading of the East Street is seen to have helped attract investment and new jobs.