Worthing school wants 50ft tree cut down

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A WORTHING school wants to axe a 50ft-high horse chestnut tree because it is “a major safety issue”.

The governors of St Mary’s RC Primary School, in Cobden Road, have claimed the tree, the subject of a tree preservation order, has a fungal infection, and is only five metres away from classrooms.

“It is right outside the early-years section, and there is a danger of branches and/or major limbs falling,” said the governors, in an application to Worthing Borough Council for consent to fell the tree.

The applicant’s arborist said the stump of an adjoining horse chestnut felled 10 years ago was infected with Ganoderma fungus. This was likely, in time, to spread to the roots of the surviving horse chestnut, causing a risk of failure due to a combination of fungal action and the weight of the branches.

But Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee was yesterday (Wednesday) recommended to refuse the application, on the grounds the tree makes a significant contribution to the area’s character and visual amenities, and its location within the Park Crescent conservation area. The borough arboriculturist told the committee the application presented no evidence to support the assertion that the tree was in an unsafe condition, and its premature felling would be disproportionate to its very low risk of failure.

He said there was the less-drastic option of addressing concerns over the tree’s size and shape, and this had been discussed with the school.