Friday, 9 January 2015

Fineshade Wood - the latest...


Hello again

Firstly a very Happy New Year, and thank you once again for all the support you  provided during 2014.  It was a pretty difficult year but, with your help, we achieved far more than we ever dared hope: 
  • the Glamping Pods application was rejected by East Northants Council (ENC), 
  • Forest Holidays withdrew from the Ancient Woodland area (where the bluebells are),
  • the revised Forest Holidays proposal came within a whisker of being rejected too.
At the ENC committee meeting on 28 November, councillors voted to defer a decision in order to "allow officers to seek additional highways advice from NCC and to arrange a further site visit."  We understand there is to be a site visit by Councillors and representatives of Northants Highways possibly on January 15th.

We understand that the application will come back to the committee at their meeting on 28th January at 7pm. That may be when a decision to reject or accept the planning application will be made. If you live locally please try to come to that meeting in Thrapston.

Residents' legal challenge of ENC’s decision not to require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is still pending. The National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU) should be making a decision sometime in the next few weeks. Forest Holidays' lawyers have submitted a response to our claims. If Councillors were to grant approval for the application on 28th Jan and if NPCU find in our favour then an EIA would need to be carried out before development could go ahead.

Just before Christmas, Forest Holidays lost a long-running battle to develop a similar site at Delamere Forest in Cheshire. A public enquiry ruled that it would contravene Green Belt regulations.

Also just before Christmas a new nearby planning application appeared on the ENC website. This is for a similar-sized holiday village on grazing land called Jack’s Green, between Kings Cliffe and Nassington.  The land was part of a WW II airfield and there would seem to be few environmental or access problems with this site. (See 14/02225/FUL on the ENC website). The application comes from a company called Rockingham Forest Park Ltd with an address in nearby Wansford.

Paul Hackett’s petition has now reached over 1000 signatures https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/forest-privatisation-by-the-back-door 

So that’s a summary of the position as it appears on 1st January. If you feel you have time to help now there is a suggestion below:-

Pressure on Northants Highways

After the ENC meeting on 26th November and during December we residents and our local Parish Council renewed the pressure on Northants Highways and Northamptonshire County Council, sending detailed objections direct to key people. What we (and the ENC councillors) want is a new statement from Northants Highways OBJECTING to application number 14/01704/FUL, rather than the wishy-washy comment they provided previously. 

Now that the holiday season is over we feel that it would be politic to renew the pressure on Northants Highways … and this is where we are asking for your help once again. The message has to be “the road is already at carrying capacity: there should be no extra development that will significantly increase traffic”.

Key people: We believe these are:

Employed people: (i.e civil servants)
TChapman@kierwsp.co.uk  Terry Chapman, Development Management Engineer, the writer of the previous consultation comment
CBond@mgwsp.co.uk Chris Bond, Team leader, Development Management, Northants Highways
dfarquhar@northamptonshire.gov.uk David Farquar, Assistant Director at NCC: responsible for Northamptonshire Highways

Elected NCC councillors
hsmith@northamptonshire.gov.uk  Heather Smith, our Ward Councillor, and deputy leader of council.
MClarke@northamptonshire.gov.uk Michael Clark, NCC “cabinet member” with oversight of Transport

What could you do?

1) If you have already sent an objection concerning access issues to ENC, please could you now resend it directly to one of the key people listed above, perhaps with an appropriate covering note.  

2) And/or, if you feel particularly strongly about the danger of the A43 junction, please could you send them a personal email describing why you feel it is dangerous. Perhaps you have had a near miss there? Perhaps you feel threatened when you take a turn into or out of Fineshade? Could you make a personal appeal saying that: there should be no extra traffic until the junction is sorted out.

3) Have you had difficulties in the single track lane because of pressure of traffic during the past week? or perhaps when the Forestry Commission had badly organised events? Could you email saying that the lane is already at carrying capacity at peak times and simply cannot carry the extra traffic caused by a 350-bed development in the wood.

4) If you feel that neither Forest Holidays (FH) nor Northants Highways have taken into account the seasonal nature of the road use, please could you point out that the brief FH traffic survey was carried out last March, before the caravan site was operating and outside the main holiday season.  Remind them that there have been occasions in 2014 (caused by the popularity of the Gruffalo trail etc.) when the whole access route was gridlocked.

5) If you feel that a 70-unit, 350-bed development in woodland should have an effective alternative emergency access route, please ask Highways to look particularly at the proposed alternative, which is currently a bridleway that is scarcely passable on foot, let alone by emergency vehicles in the event of, say, a forest fire.

If you should get any meaningful responses, please do forward it to us at fineshade.wood@zen.co.uk

Thank you once again - and here’s to a much more peaceful 2015!

Best wishes
Barrie Galpin
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