Call for action to make Horsham district’s towns and village centres greener

Horsham District Council plans to explore the possibility of using small-scale initiatives to make town centres greener and the air cleaner.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 2:18 pm

During a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday (June 2), members agreed to set up a Task and Finish Group to look into the viability of plans such as roof-top planting and green walls.

The idea came from Tony Bevis (Lib Dem, Roffey North), who was impressed by the efforts of Utrecht, in The Netherlands, to use trees, plants and mosses to reinvigorate biodiversity within the city.

In a report to the meeting, Mr Bevis said: “The city of Utrecht has introduced many innovative schemes to improve the quality of life in its city.

The statue in Piries Place, Horsham, with the car park's green wall behind it. Pic by Steve Robards

“These are principally micro-initiatives aimed at improving air quality by using plants to capture carbon dioxide, dust and other pollutants, at the same time making the city more pleasant to live in by greening the townscape.”

Horsham already has a green wall at Piries Place car park and the idea of increasing the town’s green credentials went down well with the committee.

Frances Haigh (Lib Dem, Denne) said: “I think this is brilliant – we should be doing this. There’s lots of scope within the town.”

Parts of Cowfold, Storrington and Horsham town centre have issues with air quality and Jonathan Chowen (Cowfold, Shermanbury & West Grinstead) called on the council to be ‘bold and imaginative’ in dealing with the problem.

He said: “I think we’ve got to take these steps forward. We’ve got to be brave and creative and have some imagination in how we are going to deal with this fundamental problem.”

Asking if the council had the stomach to take charge when it came to future developments, he added: “If we’re a bold and imaginative council, we should be looking at doing development ourselves, creating low carbon eco-friendly developments on the outskirts of the town which will be in a garden setting and will have plenty of play and open space around them and protect the community going forward.

“If we’re not brave and imaginative, we will have to leave it to the private sector to do such schemes and we won’t be able to set targets for them to achieve.”

The committee acknowledged that it needed to consult with West Sussex County Council about where trees, bushes and shrubs could and could not be planted.

As such, it was agreed that a representative from West Sussex Highways would be invited to a future meeting.

The Task and Finish Group will meet ‘in the not too distant future’, once the councillors who wish to take part in the work have stepped forward.

Karen Dunn , Local Democracy Reporting Service