Sat, 26 Sept 2020
MEASURES to protect treasured woodland in Thatcham, backed by a groundswell of public support, have been put in place.
A woodland Tree Preservation Order (TPO) has been placed on the Plantation, bordering Floral Way, Blackthorn Drive, Violet Grove and Withybed Way on the Dunston Park estate.
The order makes it a criminal offence for a person to cause or permit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or wilful destruction of any tree within the site and those yet to grow there.
The 6.4-acre site had been listed for sale at £250,000 and now has ancient woodland classification since residents contacted the agents.
The land failed to sell at auction last Tuesday and is now being sold as separate 0.6-acre plots at around £35,000 each.
Marketing information now says: “This land is not designated as greenbelt, but is classified as an ancient and semi-natural woodland, so could hold a number of other potential uses or even longer term future development opportunities may exist subject to the relevant planning consents.”
Residents from across the town have rallied to protect the woodland, known as ‘Piggy Woods’.
Campaigner Marina Dawes said: “Everyone associated with our campaign to save Piggy Woods is delighted that the woodland Tree Preservation Order has been served to further protect this ancient woodland and wildlife site.
“I would encourage any members of the community who are interested in helping us retain this precious ancient woodland to make representation to West Berkshire Council in support of the TPO – it’s just one way of letting West Berkshire Council know how important and valuable our woodlands are to us and I hope it will spur them on to think in a more planned way about identifying and protecting green spaces across the district.”
Town and district councillor Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said: “I’m really pleased that the council responded to my request to put the woodland TPO on the site.
“The great thing about having the woodland TPO is that it protects the whole site and trees that are yet to grow there.”
Mr Dillon urged residents to write to the council in support of the TPO.
As reported last week, a petition has been set up calling on West Berkshire Council to ‘Local Green Space’ status and use its powers to withdraw any Permitted Development Rights
More than 1,700 people had signed a petition since it was set up last Tuesday. It can be signed here
Mrs Dawes said: “There has been a groundswell of support for our petition, which has gathered incredible momentum and we are already almost at 1,500 signatures. Thanks to everyone who has signed and shared it.
“We are still pressing for the woodland to be recognised as Green Space in the Local Plan – I think the plight of Piggy Woods has drawn people’s attention to a lack of protection and planning on the part of West Berkshire Council to safeguard precious green spaces for public access.
“With uncertainties about whether further lockdowns will be imposed, families and communities are going to need more access to places like Piggy Woods, not less.”
Mr Dillon said: “Since Covid, people have come to appreciate the outdoor spaces on their doorstep and how important that can be to their health and wellbeing and people’s individual mindfulness, so when we have ancient woodland it’s important to protect it.”