DCSIMG

Speckled Wood campaigners lose reserve bid

Campaigners at the entrace to Speckled Wood, Ore. 7/11/12

Campaigners at the entrace to Speckled Wood, Ore. 7/11/12

A CAMPAIGN group has failed in its bid to have an entire woodland placed into a special area to protect it from future development.

The Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust campaigned to have the site in Ore given local nature reserve status.

Part of Speckled Wood is still allocated under the 2004 Local plan for housing development.

But councillors at Monday’s Cabinet meeting decided they would recommend the site be put forward to go into the new Development Management Plan for 2014 which will replace the 2004 plan.

This would mean a substantial area of land would now remain as woodland instead of potential housing.

There is currently planning consent for 51 units at the Victoria Avenue end of the site which is valid until January 2014.

The Trust submitted a petition signed by 1,230 people asking for the council to carry out land swaps with owners of land within the area of the woods or carry out compulsory purchase orders.

But a report by head of leisure, Virginia Gilbert, stated that planning officers did not recommend this request.

The report stated: “The recently completed consultation for the plan contained three options for varying proportions of housing development and green space in Speckled Wood.

“The option to be presented to Cabinet limits development to the Victoria Avenue site and two small sites as the southern end with the largest part of the wood reserved as green space.”

Addressing the committee, Trust chairman Martin Newbold, said: “The woodland area was wrongly designated as land for development in the 2004 local plan.

“Public awareness has increased about the loss of this unique area in the Upper Ore Valley to such an extent that a recent public consultation returned 1,231 responses all in favour of protecting this the whole woodland.

“This is the only natural open space in the area for the public.

“Trust members have been maintaining the woodland making it an accessible area for more than a year.

“The natural habitat of the wildlife and trees would be destroyed permanently and would never receover if any part of the the woodland was developed.”

Councillors Rob Cooke and Andrew Gurney both abstained from voting. Cllr Cooke said: “This is an area we should be protecting in its entirety.”

Speckled Wood first attracted

attention when it was drafted into the 2004 Local Plan.

The new DMP has been through several stages of preparation since 2010, including consultation on the draft plan between February and April this year, during which period the council received over 1,000 comments from around 280 individuals and organisations.

Another group, the Ore Community Land Trust has been fighting for years to save the wood from development and wants the wood to be preserved and improved for local use. The trust broadly welcomes the proposals in the draft DMP for protecting a large area of land in Speckled Wood as urban green space.

 
 
 

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