Horsham anger over plans to chop down tree to make way for new bus stop

It is proposed to cut down a mature oak tree outside Forest School, Horsham, to make way for a new bus lay-by SUS-190521-163209001
It is proposed to cut down a mature oak tree outside Forest School, Horsham, to make way for a new bus lay-by SUS-190521-163209001

People in Horsham are up in arms over plans to chop down a mature oak tree outside a school to make way for a new bus stop.

Letters went out to residents in Comptons Lane last week informing them of plans to remove the tree from outside Forest School.

But angry residents have hit out at the plans with calls to ‘Save The Tree’ - estimated to be between 100 - 200 years old.

Many question why the new bus stop could not be sited in another nearby spot.

West Sussex County Council says that proposals for a new bus layby were put forward following requests from Forest School for safety improvements.

But many residents have taken to social media to vent their anger at the proposals. One woman said: “It’s ridiculous. Just put the stop somewhere else.”

And another said: “Unbelievable, move the bus stop. It’s not rocket science.”

Said another: “It’s a very sad world when a beautiful piece of nature has to go for a bus stop.”

Other angry protesters said the tree helped to combat pollution. Said one: “It is a beautiful, pollution cleaning, oxygen providing, carbon eating machine. Very very necessary right now.”

But some defended the proposals to remove the tree. Said one: “The area outside of Forest School is an accident waiting to happen in my opinion.

“It is complete chaos there in the mornings and at 3pm. It’s dangerous! The plans they are proposing are all designed to improve safety for the children with improvements to cycle lanes, walkways and bus lay-bys.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “The children’s safety is our top priority. There have been two recorded incidents in which pupils have been injured on their journeys to or from The Forest School in Horsham.

“School leaders, and the local county councillor, raised concerns and we have put forward proposals to answer these and to help manage the needs of a growing school. We have discussed the proposals with key stakeholders and are now consulting with the wider community.

“Currently, the school is served by a number of buses twice daily, causing congestion and concerns, particularly in the afternoon when vehicles are waiting to collect pupils. The proposed layby, just outside the school campus and on the highway, would be able to accommodate three vehicles, reducing congestion issues and improving safety at pick-up/drop off times.

“Despite extensive efforts to find an alternative solution, a mature oak tree would have to be removed if the scheme went ahead. However, a generous replanting programme is included.

“The public consultation closes on 10 June 2019 and comments on the proposed improvement can be made to: ltip.team@westsussex.gov.uk

Headteacher Ian Straw said: “Approximately 1,100 boys attend The Forest School and a high proportion travel to and from school by bus, from homes far and wide.

“If the proposed bus layby goes ahead it would mean the children will be much safer. It’s true a mature tree, that’s been around for a long time, would have to be removed: but we want our pupils to be safe and live for a long time, too.

“We have a number of mature trees on our campus which we look after very well. When we heard a tree would have to be lost we looked at every possible way to avoid it but the layby cannot go anywhere else. For the one tree that will be removed, many will be replanted.”