Trees for Hassocks

Trees for Hassocks is a small action group with a single aim of seeing street trees planted throughout Hassocks.

Judith Foote, Penny Wadsworth, Phil Mead and Steve Richards formed the group back in 2008, having worked together on the Village Design Statement; all of them are or have been Parish Councillors since then.

The group could see that while Hassocks had quite a lot of street trees, historically there had been no consistent policy of replacing trees which had been lost, and also there were many streets with grass verges but which had never had trees planted. Also the ages of the existing, mainly old, trees were all pretty close together meaning that they could all start dying off at about the same time.

Trees for Hassocks has always worked closely with the Parish Council and other community groups, and has a formal association with the Hassocks Community Partnership, but the key approach has been to do all the necessary preparatory work directly with residents, to liaise with WSCC (who own the verges as part of the highways) and to raise money from grants and donations to have the trees purchased and planted.

The group started applying for grants, and was quite successful in getting them; the parish council also contributed some money, and the arboriculturalist at WSCC was very enthusiastic and helpful. Without his support the group would not have been able to do much, as he was needed to clarify whether the streets chosen to plant in were feasible. In addition he sends out letters to the residents, and eventually orders and then gets the trees planted through the WSCC.

It was clear early on however that grants available for street tree planting were inevitably going to dry up, so discussions were held with the Parish Council which led to the creation of an identified budget for tree planting, which had proven popular with a lot of the residents, and was seen as a good investment in the future of the village. The Hassocks Amenity Association and the Hassocks Community Partnership have for most years also made a financial contribution.

The group wrote a Tree Policy for the Parish Council which they adopted and set up the Village Tree Fund (held by HPC) as a way for residents to contribute to the cost of trees. It has collecting boxes in various local shops and the group undertakes two street collections a year. A street tree map of

Hassocks has also been developed as a record, and this enables the group to see which areas of the village could benefit from planting schemes.

The process of getting trees planted is that the group identifies certain likely streets –the approach is to generally plant streets at a time rather than scatter trees around – and then sends details of the suggested locations to the WSCC Arboriculturalist who judges whether they are suitable. If so, he then sends a letter to the residents of the identified street, they then contact HPC if they would like a tree, and when the deadline is reached the group visits all the residents who wanted one so that they can choose ‘their’ tree from a list of suitable species. The residents are asked to water them if necessary. This way the group tries only to plant with the support of people who want a tree near their home, and who therefore might tend to look after it.

Since 2008, about 300 street trees have been planted around Hassocks, with a further 40 planned for 2014-15.

If you’d like more information, please call Steve Richards 01273 844757.