RESIDENTS and councillors gathered at the MGM building in Heene Road in a bid to save a large oak tree from being ‘destroyed’ to make way for new flats.
Heene Road resident Mark Pawlak is new to the area, but said it would be a disappointment if councillors allow the mature oak tree to be removed.
He said: “The whole site is going to be redeveloped. It’s not a case of us trying to fight the development, it just seems a shame that natural landmarks could be destroyed.”
Mark lives close to the site and walks past the tree almost everyday with his wife Julia Horbaschk. Both have been campaigning to save the oak tree and recently launched a petition. The couple were surprised by the level of support they had received.
On Saturday, December 12, a few dozen people, along with Worthing & Adur Councillors Michael Cloake and Paul High, took part in a peaceful protest in Heene Road to oppose McCarthy & Stone’s plan.
The re-submitted plan proposes to demolish the main MGM office building together with offices in Heene Place and include a new block on Heene Road frontage to provide 33 retirement flats.
Julia said the original plan preserved the oak tree, but this has since been scrapped.
“In total there was about 25 people who came along to sign the petition,” she said.
“There were a few people who knew nothing about it. People didn’t even know the plans had changed. It seems the second plan hadn’t reached people and they were shocked about that.”
Julia said the councillors were supportive on the day.
She said: “They took it very seriously and want to help make our voices heard.
Mr Cloake said it was ‘heartening’ to see residents of different ages come together over a local issue.
“It’s nice to see a show of solidarity, but would be better to see it under different circumstances,” he said.
Mr Cloake said the protest was not just about the tree but a number of concerns were raised on the day about the proposal including, drainage, parking and roadworks.
He said: “I don’t think it’s [the plan] quite there yet. I don’t think the committee can make a good solid discussion based on the application.”
However, Mr Cloake said there is a need to more retirement homes in the area, along with affordable housing for young people and bigger family homes.
A wish tree was left on the site for people to write their names on tags and tie them to branches in support of saving the old oak.
The plan was reviewed by Adur and Worthing planning committee on Wednesday night after the Herald went to press. To find out the result, visit www.worthingherald.co.uk
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