Campaign victory for Chippenham wood backfires

Gary Mantle

Gary Mantle

First published in News by , Senior reporter

A status won by campaigners to protect Birds Marsh from development appears to have lost the area £470,000 promised by developers.

After years of fighting, Friends of Birds Marsh were overjoyed to achieve village green status for the woodland in north Chippenham last June.

But in a Chippenham Town Council planning committee last Thursday members were told the status had “sterilised” the wood, making it illegal to manage, and as a result developers had withdrawn their offer.

The North Chippenham Consortium, made up of Barratt Developments, Persimmon Homes and Heron Land, were going to pay for a public open space, 100 allotments, a community orchard and a woodland education centre.

There was also to be a site manager to stop vandalism and antisocial behaviour, and a cafe and children’s play area by the allotments.

The plans were introduced into the Wiltshire core strategy after discussions began in 2011 with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, which planned to manage the site throughout a 120-year lease.

Gary Mantle, chief executive of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said a management charge for all the new houses would have paid for its upkeep and security.

Dr Mantle, who described the situation as ‘a mess’, said: “They all signed that they were happy to pay the amount, in July 2013.

“The village green status was a surprise to the trust; we were not consulted and we didn’t know anything about it.

“The developer gave us a legal opinion that they would no longer be able to fulfil their obligations because village green status had, under law, sterilised the area and it would be a legal offence to manage the wood. And if anybody went into the wood who wasn’t a resident of the parish, that would be trespass.”

Coun Nick Watts asked what would happen if the wood was not managed.

Dr Mantle said: “Without that it will continue to deteriorate in terms of wildlife and community value. Rhodedendron is an invasive species and can run amok if unchecked. It would lose its biodiversity interest.”

He said there could be a way forward if Wiltshire Council accepted the associated liabilities.

Coun Watts, who covers the Hardenhuish ward, said: “The prospect of 750 houses to the north without this amenity is not one which would thrill any of us.”

Before Dr Mantle’s presentation, Martin Naylor, of Greenway Gardens, spoke on behalf of Friends of Birds Marsh. He said: “We’ve always set out to defend the woods and the fields around. We would oppose any attempt to remove the village green status as we feel it is the only thing to prevent it from being developed in such a way as to lose the wildlife.”

Wiltshire Council will discuss the Northern housing development on Wednesday, April 16 at Trowbridge County Hall at 1.30pm.

Comments (11)

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8:59pm Thu 10 Apr 14

kimcrawley says...

George Orwell would laugh his head off. So the developers and their suspect sycophants are telling us that we have lost money that they would have given us as compensation for destroying the environment.
Now they try to blackmail us, if we don't let them do as they want, by threatening to not 'manage' the woodland. What fine people they are, first of all they want to devastate a community resource - then tell us if we stop them they will ensure that people will be unable to access Birds Marsh.
Mr Mantle I do not trust your opinion you are hiding behind the developers lies. When was the last prosecution for trespass by a non parishioner onto a village green. Furthermore if Mantle actually represents the views of WWT I will never make any donation in the future. Perhaps he should change his name to developer's friend and natures enemy. Chief executive of the wildlife trust, I wouldn't trust him to look after an allotment.
George Orwell would laugh his head off. So the developers and their suspect sycophants are telling us that we have lost money that they would have given us as compensation for destroying the environment. Now they try to blackmail us, if we don't let them do as they want, by threatening to not 'manage' the woodland. What fine people they are, first of all they want to devastate a community resource - then tell us if we stop them they will ensure that people will be unable to access Birds Marsh. Mr Mantle I do not trust your opinion you are hiding behind the developers lies. When was the last prosecution for trespass by a non parishioner onto a village green. Furthermore if Mantle actually represents the views of WWT I will never make any donation in the future. Perhaps he should change his name to developer's friend and natures enemy. Chief executive of the wildlife trust, I wouldn't trust him to look after an allotment. kimcrawley
  • Score: -8

10:18pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Furious123 says...

Friends` of Birds Marsh? Good intentions but misguided and very poorly informed ..........Hoisted by One’s Own Petard!
Just walk your dogs (on the official footpaths please) and accept the most beneficial scenario for this inevitable change.
Friends` of Birds Marsh? Good intentions but misguided and very poorly informed ..........Hoisted by One’s Own Petard! Just walk your dogs (on the official footpaths please) and accept the most beneficial scenario for this inevitable change. Furious123
  • Score: 4

11:56pm Thu 10 Apr 14

kimcrawley says...

Furious123
You just don't get it do you. Many people have looked at the proposals, the only beneficial scenario is for the developers and the recipients of their largesse.
We live in a nominal democracy and patronising comments about how well people are informed are irrelevant. Why can't you accept that there are alternatives available that would not cause the irreversible damage to the environment that the proposed development will bring.
You are the one that needs to do some research, or are you on the payroll of the corrupt tories/developers.
Furious123 You just don't get it do you. Many people have looked at the proposals, the only beneficial scenario is for the developers and the recipients of their largesse. We live in a nominal democracy and patronising comments about how well people are informed are irrelevant. Why can't you accept that there are alternatives available that would not cause the irreversible damage to the environment that the proposed development will bring. You are the one that needs to do some research, or are you on the payroll of the corrupt tories/developers. kimcrawley
  • Score: -6

4:08pm Fri 11 Apr 14

Furious123 says...

Oh calm down dear, what a rant! This development is going to happen. We are all angry about it but all your heated words won't make a scrap of difference now and I cannot understand your need to be quite so rude to anyone with a different overview of the situation.
What is a travesty, is Wiltshire Council's flawed selection of development sites, thrown out by the Planning Inspector and deemed unsound, allowing any developer open season on any land in Chippenham. Wait until you see the additional plans for this area being prepared at the moment! Granting Birds Marsh Village Green status without explaining the consequences regarding maintenance is a serious error and some of the well intentioned Friends of Birds Marsh are understandably devastated.
I'm certainly not on the payroll of anyone, as you imply, and have read every available word relating to this development and others for many years, so I'm extremely well informed.
Perhaps it would be more beneficial to direct your fury towards the planning department of our county council, although I've always found courteous discussion is better.
Oh calm down dear, what a rant! This development is going to happen. We are all angry about it but all your heated words won't make a scrap of difference now and I cannot understand your need to be quite so rude to anyone with a different overview of the situation. What is a travesty, is Wiltshire Council's flawed selection of development sites, thrown out by the Planning Inspector and deemed unsound, allowing any developer open season on any land in Chippenham. Wait until you see the additional plans for this area being prepared at the moment! Granting Birds Marsh Village Green status without explaining the consequences regarding maintenance is a serious error and some of the well intentioned Friends of Birds Marsh are understandably devastated. I'm certainly not on the payroll of anyone, as you imply, and have read every available word relating to this development and others for many years, so I'm extremely well informed. Perhaps it would be more beneficial to direct your fury towards the planning department of our county council, although I've always found courteous discussion is better. Furious123
  • Score: 7

7:50am Sat 12 Apr 14

politepanda says...

Furious123 wrote:
Oh calm down dear, what a rant! This development is going to happen. We are all angry about it but all your heated words won't make a scrap of difference now and I cannot understand your need to be quite so rude to anyone with a different overview of the situation.
What is a travesty, is Wiltshire Council's flawed selection of development sites, thrown out by the Planning Inspector and deemed unsound, allowing any developer open season on any land in Chippenham. Wait until you see the additional plans for this area being prepared at the moment! Granting Birds Marsh Village Green status without explaining the consequences regarding maintenance is a serious error and some of the well intentioned Friends of Birds Marsh are understandably devastated.
I'm certainly not on the payroll of anyone, as you imply, and have read every available word relating to this development and others for many years, so I'm extremely well informed.
Perhaps it would be more beneficial to direct your fury towards the planning department of our county council, although I've always found courteous discussion is better.
In what way is KC either ranting or being rude?? Or do you actually mean that having the temerity to own an independent thought - not aligned to YOUR belief - is rude? You may consider yourself well-informed, but it's wasted - your condescension gets in the way.
And as for the reaction of the developers et al - "dog in the manger"??? how professional.
[quote][p][bold]Furious123[/bold] wrote: Oh calm down dear, what a rant! This development is going to happen. We are all angry about it but all your heated words won't make a scrap of difference now and I cannot understand your need to be quite so rude to anyone with a different overview of the situation. What is a travesty, is Wiltshire Council's flawed selection of development sites, thrown out by the Planning Inspector and deemed unsound, allowing any developer open season on any land in Chippenham. Wait until you see the additional plans for this area being prepared at the moment! Granting Birds Marsh Village Green status without explaining the consequences regarding maintenance is a serious error and some of the well intentioned Friends of Birds Marsh are understandably devastated. I'm certainly not on the payroll of anyone, as you imply, and have read every available word relating to this development and others for many years, so I'm extremely well informed. Perhaps it would be more beneficial to direct your fury towards the planning department of our county council, although I've always found courteous discussion is better.[/p][/quote]In what way is KC either ranting or being rude?? Or do you actually mean that having the temerity to own an independent thought - not aligned to YOUR belief - is rude? You may consider yourself well-informed, but it's wasted - your condescension gets in the way. And as for the reaction of the developers et al - "dog in the manger"??? how professional. politepanda
  • Score: -12

3:35pm Sat 12 Apr 14

Furious123 says...

politepanda wrote:
Furious123 wrote:
Oh calm down dear, what a rant! This development is going to happen. We are all angry about it but all your heated words won't make a scrap of difference now and I cannot understand your need to be quite so rude to anyone with a different overview of the situation.
What is a travesty, is Wiltshire Council's flawed selection of development sites, thrown out by the Planning Inspector and deemed unsound, allowing any developer open season on any land in Chippenham. Wait until you see the additional plans for this area being prepared at the moment! Granting Birds Marsh Village Green status without explaining the consequences regarding maintenance is a serious error and some of the well intentioned Friends of Birds Marsh are understandably devastated.
I'm certainly not on the payroll of anyone, as you imply, and have read every available word relating to this development and others for many years, so I'm extremely well informed.
Perhaps it would be more beneficial to direct your fury towards the planning department of our county council, although I've always found courteous discussion is better.
In what way is KC either ranting or being rude?? Or do you actually mean that having the temerity to own an independent thought - not aligned to YOUR belief - is rude? You may consider yourself well-informed, but it's wasted - your condescension gets in the way.
And as for the reaction of the developers et al - "dog in the manger"??? how professional.
Whatever!
[quote][p][bold]politepanda[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Furious123[/bold] wrote: Oh calm down dear, what a rant! This development is going to happen. We are all angry about it but all your heated words won't make a scrap of difference now and I cannot understand your need to be quite so rude to anyone with a different overview of the situation. What is a travesty, is Wiltshire Council's flawed selection of development sites, thrown out by the Planning Inspector and deemed unsound, allowing any developer open season on any land in Chippenham. Wait until you see the additional plans for this area being prepared at the moment! Granting Birds Marsh Village Green status without explaining the consequences regarding maintenance is a serious error and some of the well intentioned Friends of Birds Marsh are understandably devastated. I'm certainly not on the payroll of anyone, as you imply, and have read every available word relating to this development and others for many years, so I'm extremely well informed. Perhaps it would be more beneficial to direct your fury towards the planning department of our county council, although I've always found courteous discussion is better.[/p][/quote]In what way is KC either ranting or being rude?? Or do you actually mean that having the temerity to own an independent thought - not aligned to YOUR belief - is rude? You may consider yourself well-informed, but it's wasted - your condescension gets in the way. And as for the reaction of the developers et al - "dog in the manger"??? how professional.[/p][/quote]Whatever! Furious123
  • Score: 4

7:09am Sun 13 Apr 14

politepanda says...

My apologies - had I realised you were a child, furious 123 - I'd have addressed your parents.
My apologies - had I realised you were a child, furious 123 - I'd have addressed your parents. politepanda
  • Score: -17

7:24pm Mon 14 Apr 14

allthedecentnameshavegone says...

Kim

"You just don't get it do you. Many people have looked at the proposals, the only beneficial scenario is for the developers and the recipients of their largesse. "

Surely some of the other beneficiaries will be those people looking to move into the area, those looking for the types of 'affordable homes' proposed in the development, first time buyers who may benefit from the slight deflationary effect the increased capacity may have on current local house prices, local retailers (independent and chain) though approximately 700 additional households buying groceries and fuel etc, construction jobs generated etc...

I'm not suggesting that the proposals are without drawbacks, but they are certainly not exclusively detrimental - there are some benefits to Chippenham and its businesses and residents too.
Kim "You just don't get it do you. Many people have looked at the proposals, the only beneficial scenario is for the developers and the recipients of their largesse. " Surely some of the other beneficiaries will be those people looking to move into the area, those looking for the types of 'affordable homes' proposed in the development, first time buyers who may benefit from the slight deflationary effect the increased capacity may have on current local house prices, local retailers (independent and chain) though approximately 700 additional households buying groceries and fuel etc, construction jobs generated etc... I'm not suggesting that the proposals are without drawbacks, but they are certainly not exclusively detrimental - there are some benefits to Chippenham and its businesses and residents too. allthedecentnameshavegone
  • Score: 5

7:27pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Ruman Stimulant says...

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will ruin it, just look at what they have done with Vincients Wood in Chippenham. A once pretty and natural wood now resembles a clearance site and most of the wildlife has gone.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will ruin it, just look at what they have done with Vincients Wood in Chippenham. A once pretty and natural wood now resembles a clearance site and most of the wildlife has gone. Ruman Stimulant
  • Score: 10

1:43pm Wed 16 Apr 14

Frederick116 says...

serve them right ha ha
serve them right ha ha Frederick116
  • Score: -1

1:44pm Wed 16 Apr 14

Frederick116 says...

Serves them nimby's right ha ha ha
Get it built and get over it, its called progress
Serves them nimby's right ha ha ha Get it built and get over it, its called progress Frederick116
  • Score: -1

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