Inspector’s suggestions for woodland

A campaign group says it is celebrating after a Government Planning Inspector recommended that the area of Speckled Wood in the Ore Valley be designated as protected open space.

Ore Community Land Trust says it is delighted at the recommendation from Planning Inspector Richard Hollox relating to Hastings Borough Council’s Development Management Plan.

Mr Hollox has recommended that land at Victoria Avenue and to the rear of Old London Road be kept out of the plans for any future development.

However the Friends of Speckled Wood and SAD OWLS campaign groups are concerned that the owners of any land within these areas may object to it being taken out of the plan and trigger an appeal hearing.

There is currently a six-week consultation taking place until March 27 for the public or interested parties to make any comments on the inspector’s recommendations. After this the council can modify its plan to accommodate the suggestions and then there would be another period of consultation before a final plan is submitted to the Government’s planning inspectorate.

A statement from Ian Sier, chairman for the trust, read: “The Ore Community Land Trust is delighted to hear that the Planning Inspector as recommended that the area of ‘Speckled Wood’ in the Ore Valley proposed by the council as protected green space, along with two areas that were designated for development, should all be protected.

“The trust would like to thank the Inspector for listening to the submissions and for recognising just how important Speckled Wood is to local residents.

“The trust must also recognise the crucial role that Hastings borough councillors and officers played in responding to community support for Speckled Wood by redesignating a large area of land as urban green space in the draft Local Plan.

“The inspector’s proposal is a tremendous milestone in the local campaign to protect Speckled Wood. It gives renewed impetus to achieve the trust’s overall aim of preserving land in the Ore Valley as open green space for the enjoyment of the local community and for creating amenities such as a Village Green for Ore.”

Martin Newbold, of the Friends of Speckled Wood, said: “The inspector’s findings are out for consultation for six weeks and that the mater is not currently subject to a final decision. All this seems positive but it is early days. Please visit our new consultation address”