Update: The application to the planning authority for tree works has now been withdrawn by the Golf Club.
Crowborough Beacon Golf Club have applied for permission to clear trees and invasive shrubs around their existing car park on Southview Road to create extra parking spaces.
The application form states the request has been made now to facilitate the site being used for Covid-19 testing. James Nairn, Secretary at Crowborough Beacon Golf Club said:
We are pleased to have been approached by East Sussex County Council about the siting of a Mobile Testing unit within our car park. Whilst we have limited available space, we are very happy to do anything that we can to support both the NHS and the local community throughout the pandemic.
The woodland is in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is common land and is subject to a Tree Preservation Order.
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a written order made by a local planning authority which, in general, makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a protected tree protected without the authority’s permission. For further information see Wealden District Council’s website: Protected Trees and Tree Preservation Orders.
The Public Health Service at the County Council have said the plan is for a mobile testing unit which would be in place for two or three days every month. An East Sussex County Council spokesman said:
Mobile testing units help meet more of the demand for tests, giving people with symptoms more options to check if they have the virus, and are part of the Department for Health and Social Care‘s efforts to increase testing capacity.
With representatives of the national Test and Trace programme, we are looking at options for further testing sites in East Sussex.
We are grateful to Crowborough Beacon Golf Club for their offer to allow a mobile Covid -19 testing unit on their site. These temporary units, in place for two to three days each month, play an important role in the national effort to give residents more opportunities to get tested locally.
There was no request or requirement from us or the Department for Health and Social Care to remove trees or vegetation from the site to make space for the unit, the existing car space was considered adequate to accommodate it.
The county council proposes possible sites for testing units to the DHSC which judges them against strict criteria. We do not propose sites for testing units which require any permanent changes to layout or access
A woodland habitat assessment, including identification of the species concerned and a management programme, has been submitted with the application to Wealden District Council. Click to see the application: Ref TM/2020/0317/TPO.
Until a location for a local Covid-19 testing site becomes operational, we are encouraged to still continue to follow the NHS advice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus:
We can all work together in East Sussex to restrict the virus in our communities. If you have symptoms, arrange a test as soon as you can, and self-isolate immediately if you or others in your household develop symptoms. Meanwhile, we should all follow NHS guidance on hand-washing, face-covering and keeping social distance.
Other sites are available that don’t require removal of habitat subject to TPOs. eg Crowborough Camp or Goldsmiths.
Hmm, a site which does not have space for the unit and needs to remove trees subject to TPOs within the ANOB to make space – does not sound very logical. What will happen to the site when/if the mobile unit is no longer needed …… development?
As the reader above has pointed out – plenty of other more suitable sites in the area. The Horder Centre and Crowborough Hospital often have mobile units in their car parks and both have plenty of room for another.
Here we go again! Beacon Golf Club has already tried and failed in an attempt to increase the size of their car park but this time our wonderful friends on ESCC are giving them all the ammunition they need to destroy part of our green space. Other sites are available that do not require this destruction for the sake of 2 or 3 days per month!!
The comments already made are 100% correct. This is not public service, it is blatant self interest trying to find any way to get what they want. Golf club should have a chat with their conscience.
Totally agree with the previous comments and object to any more trees being felled. I would love to see what the justification is especially when there are so many alternative better sites for a Covid station. I recognise the two issues are not related, but the Covid testing station is a smoke screen for the application.