Campaigners’ joy as St Leonards meadow included in nature reserve

Campaigners for the protection of Robsack Wood Meadow, St Leonards.
Campaigners for the protection of Robsack Wood Meadow, St Leonards.

Campaigners who have battled for years to save a piece of greenland are celebrating after the council agreed to incorporate the area into a nature reserve.

Councillors on the authority’s cabinet committee voted unanimously on Monday (January 8) to declare Ponds Wood a local nature reserve, and to extend the Churchwood nature reserve to include Robsack Meadow.

Cllr Colin Fitzgerald, the council’s lead member for the environment, said: “We are very lucky in Hastings to have such great green spaces, from the award-winning country park and Alexandra Park to our cherished ’pocket parks’.

“Ponds Wood is ancient semi-natural woodland bordering a stream. It provides easy access for residents to enjoy a high quality natural space in the middle of a built-up urban environment.

“Robsack Meadow was originally allocated as a housing site, but we have now removed that designation following the inspector’s recommendations into our 2015 Local Plan. To protect this area going forward, we are extending the Churchwood local nature reserve boundary to include Robsack Meadow.

“Hastings will now have eight local nature reserves, a very high number for a town of our size, showing how we value these local green ‘lungs’ for wildlife, and residents and visitors, to enjoy.”

Patricia Stephenson, on behalf of the Robsack Campaign Group, said: “This is a really wonderful piece of news because we fought long and hard for more than seven years to protect this important little habitat from development.”

In 2015 in his report about the council’s development management plan (DMP), planning inspector Richard Hollox said Robsack Meadow should be protected from any development.

A declaration notice is being published in the local press and on the council’s website to allow the public to inspect the declaration and the boundary map.