LETTER: Fairy forest in town centre

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This arrangement of silver birch trees has been planted in the bowl that held the water for the recently discarded Rising Universe, a piece of public art given to the Town twenty years ago.

Controversial as it was there is no doubt that this sculpture’s dynamic presence is a hard act to follow. I was expecting four significant silver birch trees with under planting hopefully illuminated with subtle lighting. What we have is a group of 16 young silver birches quite tightly planted to form a fairy forest in the bowl. Trees need space to grow comfortably because their roots and branches soon thicken. Trees are precious and should be looked after. I can’t help wondering how long it will be before these trees feel stressed by the effects of being confined. We will all want people to be kind so these trees will avoid any elements of anti-social behaviour. There is no National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Trees !! So we must hope that they can cope with the challenges they face.

Personally I am passionate about the ability of plants and trees to bring a sense of wellbeing to our lives and that is why I am so happy to have been involved with Horsham in Bloom. It is clear that this planting appears as a temporary stop-gap whilst more thought is put into what could replace the sadly neglected Shelley Fountain. I do not know if the circle of planters regularly used around the fountain will be coming back to complement the trees. A splash of floral design with shapely foliage would help to form a protective barrier around the mini-forest.

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Now is the time to take a serious look at what landscaping and embellishments could be used to bring back a dynamic sense of pride in this area. Time for ideas and inspiration. The remaining landscaping towards Albion Way includes a waterfall and stream. This is a popular and atmospheric place where people experience the natural sound of water, its movement and the peace and relaxation it generates. This prize winning scene echoes the peace and natural beauty of the town and it also reflects the first verse of Shelley’s Mont Blanc which was singularly appropriate.

Aesthetic aspirations, high quality and clever design are essential to a town like Horsham. It is not a modern clone town and should at every step preserve its ability to blend the best of its past with modern innovation so that it continues to portray its character and personality. Personally I think we need to reinstate some of the durable cast iron street furniture that has been removed but hopefully - not disposed of; for instance in West Street the stylish poles that were used effectively for sponsored hanging baskets. They are a better option for floral display because they bring interest at a higher level without restricting the free flow of shoppers. The theatre planters that were used elsewhere in the town have been brought to the street and should be able to add some much needed colour but they do take up pavement space.

For the sake of residents, businesses and visitors expenditure has to be made to make any town look good. The better it looks the more interest it generates and the stronger the local economy becomes. Wasting money is not an option but sadly we have certainly seen this happening in Horsham Town. Careful investment in civic pride pays dividends because a passionately proud town community usually creates a thriving town environment. In Horsham we do have businesses that want to the protect and enhance the local environment and we have people who want to give their time and expertise to volunteering within this framework.

The future of Horsham Town is at a crossroads - it should be local people who lead the decision making processes to ensure that essential changes are always strong beneficial improvements, changes that leave the personality and integrity of Horsham Town intact.’

Christine Costin

Horsham District councillor for Trafalgar ward (LDem)

Guildford Road, Horsham


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