New policy to plant trees in new developments
Developers will need to provide more detailed information about trees they intend to retain and plant in new developments as a result of a new policy report adopted by Worthing Planning Committee last week.
Members of the committee expressed frustration about the gulf between what developers offer in their plans for new sites and what is delivered in practice.
Worthing Borough Council wants to tighten procedures to better protect trees at potential brownfield development sites by ensuring decisions are not based on inaccurate information.
There have been examples of applicants in Worthing submitting plans featuring Computer Generated Images (CGI) that show significant tree planting, only for a minimal number of trees to be included upon completion.
Bayside tree planting mislead by CGI images
The recent Bayside development on the seafront was cited as a high-profile example where the application agreed by councillors had included computer generated images of trees along the frontage.
However, those trees were then not planted after the developer discovered it was impossible because of the concentration of utility services under the pavement.
Under the new approach, applicants would have to give a more realistic view of any development by omitting CGI imagery of misleading and speculative planting from planning applications.
Planners will request more detailed landscaping schemes particularly on major developments, so that they could be considered alongside the building plans.
Developers would also be forced to go back to the Council to get permission for any tree-felling that they were not given approval for by the planning committee. This would give councillors more control.
Importance of trees in new developments
Cllr Martin McCabe, Worthing’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The planning committee decides on whether developments can happen based on the information the members are given and the answers to the questions they ask.
“If that information is misleading, the wrong decisions could be made. By tightening up our planning policy, we can prevent developments springing up that we would otherwise block. Trees are a vital part of our town so giving them more protection, and ensuring as many as possible are planted, is good for the environment and good for our quality of life.”
Cllr Jim Deen, the chairman of Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee, added: “It is our ambition for the town to become a greener place, and planning has an important role to play in delivering this.
“Trees are an important part of that, but it is being able to deliver good, all-round landscape schemes in new developments that is key to our being able to meet our objectives.”