The Future of Speckled Wood

 

The Future of Speckled Wood in the new Hastings Local Plan to be adopted in 2013

Following on from our very successful campaign to encourage supporters to respond to the last Local Plan Consultation in April 2012 and call for Speckled Wood (the Upper Ore Valley) to be redesignated as protected Green Space, 170 people took the trouble to send their views to the Hastings Borough Council Planning Department.

The current Hastings Borough Plan has at least two thirds of Speckled Wood designated for housing development, leaving only the Valley floor and even this is not protected green space.

This was by far the largest public response about any area of land in the Borough and, as a result, the planning officers decided to propose three different options for protecting areas of land in Speckled Wood from development.

The options

  • Option A – to protect just the land in centre of the woodland valley
  • Option B – to protect the land in Option A and all the land that runs up to the Old London Road
  • Option C – to protect both areas of land in Option B and the land that runs up to Church Street.

Click a map below to see a larger version.

Option C represents nearly all of the land in Speckled Wood but excludes the land at the top of the valley next to Victoria Avenue, which has planning permission for development, and a small section of land next to Clifton Road.

This was a historic point in the 8 year campaign to save the Upper Ore Valley (Speckled Wood) from development and the first time in perhaps 60 years that the Council has put forward a proposal to designate land in the valley as protected green space.

While we would prefer to see the whole of Speckled Wood protected, we appreciate that it would be difficult to change the status of land that already has planning permission. We will, however, campaign to have the planning permission on the Victoria Avenue land overturned when it comes up for renewal.

The consultation process ran from 6 July to 17 August 2012 and Ore Community Land Trust organised a focused campaign to encourage as many people as possible to submit a response to the consultation to support Option C.

The campaign included contacting all Ore CLT members and supporters, leaving information sheets and model response letters in key public contact points in Ore, press publicity and organising a public event in Ore on 11 August 2012 to explain the Local Plan proposals and the vision for Speckled Wood as a community owned green space.

Another recently formed group, Friends of Speckled Wood, which was set up from a ‘Facebook’ campaign, also sought support for an alternative option of protecting the whole of Speckled Wood and generated over 1,000 signatures.

The Next Stages

There are still a number of stages and hurdles to get through before Speckled Wood achieves statutory protected green space status.

  1. Firstly the planning officers will include their recommendation for Speckled Wood in the draft Local Plan that will go to the Hastings Borough Council Cabinet meeting on 5th November 2012 – 6pm at the Town Hall.
  2. The draft Local Plan will then go to a full Council Meeting – date to be confirmed.
    Councillors can vote to make alterations to the Plan at either meeting
  3. There will be a final but limited consultation on the agreed draft of the Local Plan at the end of 2012.
  4. There will be a Public Enquiry into the draft Local Plan during 2013 – date not yet known, and this will be the final opportunity to make changes to the Plan.
  5. The 15 Year Hastings Local Plan will then be formally adopted later in 2013.

Ore Community Land Trust will publish details of what recommendation is made in respect of Speckled Wood as soon as we hear – probably in October. We will organise a public demonstration of support for Option C and, if necessary, lobby councillors to substitute Option C if a lesser Option is proposed.

You can help by watching this web site or, better still, by joining Ore Community Land Trust and supporting our campaign.

We are very close to saving a vitally important area of urban woodland in Ore for the community.

Look at our proposals on this web site for how Speckled Wood could be enhanced for community use, while protecting wildlife habitat and the wonderful views down the Valley.

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