Campaigners fight to save woods in Annesley from homes threat

.Residents of Forest Rd Annesley at Little Oak Plantation which may be used as a soak away
.Residents of Forest Rd Annesley at Little Oak Plantation which may be used as a soak away

DETERMINED Annesley folk are gearing up for yet another battle to stop a housing developer creating a drainage system on a well-loved area of woodland.

Ashfield District Council’s Planning Committee rejected Taylor Wimpey’s application last year to build 97 new homes on land off Forest Road amid concern from officers that the flood risk assessment was not adequate.

Villagers had also submitted more than 1,000 objections, arguing that development would lead to traffic chaos and the loss of wildlife in the area.

As part of the housing scheme, Taylor Wimpey had also wanted to create a surface and foul water drainage system at an area known as Little Oak Plantation - also called Bluebell Wood - which was thrown out, too.

Now the firm has submitted a fresh application for drainage works at the same site ‘to serve proposed residential development’ - even though it has not applied to build houses.

The latest proposal has angered nearby residents, including members of the community group ACCESS (Annesley Community Committed to Ensuring Sustainable Developments), who have successfully fought a number of housing applications in the area.

Said group chairman Peter Olko: “We are disappointed as a group that Taylor Wimpey hasn’t listened to the local community and councillors who have previously condemned this scheme as inappropriate and devastating to our countryside.”

“We have got one chance to save our heritage because once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t recover centuries of natural beauty.”

Taylor Wimpey has so far remained tight-lipped about whether it will submit another application for housing, with a spokesman saying it will await the outcome of the drainage application before deciding how it will proceed on the housing site.

Dominic Harman, managing director of Taylor Wimpey East Midlands, said: “We do acknowledge that our recent planning application to build 97 much-needed new homes off Forest Road was turned down by Ashfield District Council for a number of reasons, one of which was as a result of technical matters in respect of drainage.

“We believe we have overcome those technical reasons and therefore have submitted our recent application for the planning committee to consider.

“We have included a proposal to remove a small number of trees from the land to the south which is adjacent to our proposed development which will enable us to carry out any necessary off-site drainage works if they are approved.

“Should our drainage application be approved by Ashfield District Council, we would only carry out this work with the utmost sensitivity, being careful to remove as few trees as possible.

“The wooded area known as Little Oak Plantation to the south of our development was purchased by ourselves from the Forestry Commission and was previously planted for commercial woodland which could then be re-harvested for sustainable timber to be cut down, sold and used commercially

“Taylor Wimpey East Midlands remains committed to bringing forward high quality sustainable development at Forest Road which we still believe will provide much needed new affordable homes, help to create and sustain local employment and bring further enhancements for the local community.

“This new drainage application is an important step as part of this proposal and we look forward to working with the council officers and local community as our application progresses through the planning process.”

Residents will be able to discuss the latest Taylor Wimpey application at the next ACCESS meeting, which will take place at the Forest Road Methodist Church meeting room tomorrow at 7.15pm.