CHICHESTER mayor Peter Budge assumed the persona of a hedge today in a spirited effort to stop it being replaced (Wednesday, August 19).
Mr Budge said ‘horrible things’ had been said of the specimen, due to be replaced by a new hedge as part of a planning application to extend the popular Fenwicks Café, in Priory Park, Chichester.
In a speech to Chichester District Council planning committee, he switched from referring to the hedge, to speaking from the perspective of it.
He said: “I am talking on behalf of the hedge. This poor hedge has been deluged with many horrible things saying it’s a tatty hedge, a horrible hedge, but let me tell you, it’s an English hedge.
“I provide a perfectly good habitat for birds and the idea of killing me and moving me a metre forward to the detriment of myself is not on, quite frankly.
“They want to plant a new hedge, a new me, in front of me, and quite frankly there’s an irony to this. They want to move me so they can have more seats inside and the irony of that is when it rains, they won’t get used.”
Despite Mr Budge’s concerns, experienced horticulturist councillor Richard Plowman said the hedge was not ‘English’ but predominantly cherry laurel, native to the Caucasus mountains in eastern Europe.
He noted it was also on the Royal Horticultural Society’s list of poisonous plants, although there was no risk unless consumed in large quantities.
Extended discussions over the issue led committee chairman Bob Hayes to joke: “I feel we have degenerated into Gardeners’ Question Time.”
Controversy over the hedge came as part plans to build a single-storey extension to the sales kiosk to provide a covered seating area, along with an extension of the timescale of the temporary permission.
This would allow the café to remain open for at least five years.
In order to make space for the new seating area, the hedge boundary would be moved forward, with a new one planted using native species.
The application was well-supported by residents and Chichester Business Improvement District, who welcomed the success of the café.
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the plans.
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