Councillors to decide future of woodland

Speckled Wood
Speckled Wood

THE FUTURE of Speckled Wood is set to be decided by councillors.

Part of the site in Upper Ore Valley could in future be protected as a nature reserve, with some of it allocated for residential development.

A petition by campaigning group Friends of Speckled Wood is also to be considered by councillors at the cabinet meeting on Monday (November 5).

The group wants the whole of the woodland, in Ore, to be protected from development.

The future of Speckled Wood has come up in the Development Management Plan (DMP), a document which outlines possible development in the town over the next 14 years.

The 2004 Local Plan, which the DMP replaces, allocated a large portion of the wood for housing development.

The recently completed consultation for the DMP contained three options for varying levels of development.

In the option to be presented to the council, the largest part of the wood is reserved as green space, with development allocated at Victoria Avenue, and two other smaller sites.

A report by head of amenities, resorts and leisure, Virginia Gilbert, recommends that when the DMP is adopted in 2014, the council seeks landowners’ agreement to declare the portion of the wood designated as green space, as a Local Nature Reserve.

The report does not recommend that the council agrees to the petitioners’ request for land swaps or compulsory purchase of privately owned land within the wood.

The Friends of Speckled Wood have asked that their petition is considered by councillors alongside the DMP, which is to be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Monday.

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 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.