Fury as work starts ‘early’ on park ice rink

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Furious campaigners have lodged a complaint over Horsham District Council’s handling of a planning application to site a new ice rink in Horsham Park.

Members of the New Friends of Horsham Park hit out after maintaining preparatory works for the rink had been brought forward, a vehicle route changed and branches lopped off a tree. An application was submitted to the district council on Wednesday last week containing further information and outlining that preparatory work would begin on Monday - a week ahead of schedule.

Park Friends’ chairman Sally Sanderson said the council had demonstrated “many instances of poor consultation with the public, inaccurate, late and misleading information, failure to ensure adequate conditions prior to permission being granted,” and “failure to conduct an environmental impact survey and protect trees.”

The whole application had been ‘rushed and disorganised’ and there had been frequent changes, including the height of a marquee over the ice rink and the change of start date for the works to September 18 instead of September 25, and the pruning of an oak tree which had earlier been stated would be avoided.

A spokeswoman for the district council said: “The applicant has submitted an application with further information to discharge the conditions attached to the planning permission, as they were required to do. The council has assessed the application and approved the details required by the conditions placed on planning application DC/17/1689 for the temporary change of use for an ice rink. This is referred to as a Discharge of Condition application, which in this case is number DISC/17/0360.

“This application did not need to be considered by the Planning Committee.” She said it was available for public view on the council’s website.

“Two letters of representation have been received from neighbouring residents regarding recent works to trees surrounding the site. The district council’s parks and countryside team have confirmed that the works were undertaken as routine maintenance.

“An oak tree received minor remedial work consisting of the removal of some small branches, the vast majority of which were either dead or in a state of decline. This recent work has had no detrimental effect on the tree and maintenance of the council’s trees is routine. It should be noted that it is considered likely that this tree will require further deadwood removal in the relatively near future.

“Other very minor low branches were removed along the access road to the north of the Chennells car park because access for grounds maintenance vehicles was becoming difficult.

“A complaint from the chair of the New Friends of Horsham Park has been received about the handling of the Horsham Outdoor Events application DC/17/1689 and it will be dealt with in accordance with the council’s usual complaints procedure.”