Sat, 12 Sept 2020
THATCHAM residents are fighting to save a treasured piece of woodland from possibly being lost to development.
People on the Dunston Park estate said they were shocked and angered to learn that the community woodland area, referred to by children as Piggy Woods, has been put up for sale for ‘potential development’ at auction as soon as Tuesday next week.
The woodland, called The Plantation, lies between Blackthorn Drive, Violet Grove and Withybed Way, off Floral Way.
The 6.4 acres of ancient woodland, the only one of its kind in the town, is being marketed by Exclusive Estates & Auctioneers – Battersea with an asking price of £250,000.
Land Registry records say that the registered owner of the woodland is Adrian Nicholls, care of Paradise Garden Services, Hook, Hampshire.
The property description says: “An exciting opportunity to own this freehold and non-greenbelt woodland in the desirable location of Thatcham, Berkshire.
“This land is not designated as greenbelt so could hold development opportunities subject to the relevant planning consents.”
Residents from the estate and across Thatcham quickly rallied to oppose the possible destruction of the much-loved and extensively used woods.
Within 48 hours almost 300 people had registered their support to oppose potential development by joining a Facebook group to air their views and share their concerns.
Jane Emerson said: “This woodland is a central character of our area and it would be devastating to lose it.
“We were only just saying how lucky we are to have this wonderful space right on our doorstep.
“It’s full of wildlife, it’s a great area for children to explore and play, and it’s a lovely place to walk and to walk dogs.”
The woodland formed part of Dunston House, which was completed by 1730.
Thatcham historian Nick Young said that the house had various owners and tenants and was auctioned in 1798, but the estate did not sell and was pulled down.
Parts of the estate were sold off as building materials and Dr Young said that many of these can be seen around Thatcham today, such as parts of the United Reformed Church and various houses in Park Lane.
Marina Dawes, who lives on the Dunston Park estate, said: “This woodland was one of the things that attracted me to the area and it’s a great place for children to learn about nature.
“We’ve got red kites nesting, sparrow hawks, jays, owls and bats, hedgehogs, muntjac deer, foxes, butterflies, a huge array of birds, including goldfinches, bullfinches and bluetits, squirrels, dragonflies, rabbits and so much more wildlife.
“We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to keep this woodland for the benefit of the local community.
“We’ve set up a public Facebook group for anyone interested in helping to save it: ‘Save the Plantation Woodland from development!!’
“We have already secured the support of local councillors for our campaign and, considering the local councils have declared a commitment to the environment, we are hopeful they will support us in our efforts to retain this important woodland area, and maybe even really fulfil its potential as a community asset.”