On 20th October Hastings Borough Council’s Planning Committee reconsidered the planning application for the development of 31 houses and 4 flats on the land at the top of Speckled Wood. This had been approved, subject to conditions, in February 2014.
However, some of the conditions had not been met and the recent redesignation of Speckled Wood as Local Green Space, which includes this land, was a fundamental and material change that required the application to be reconsidered.
Ore CLT members attended the Planning meeting and were very pleased to witness the unanimous and all party agreement of the Planning Committee to refuse the application, as recommended by the planning officer.
This means that there is now no planning permission for any development in Speckled Wood apart from the small area where Church Street joins Clifton Road. This is the last stage in the process of protecting the woodland valley so that Ore CLT can work towards acquiring all of the land to create a Community Woodland.
Hastings Development Management Plan was adopted at a full Council meeting on 23 September. The area of Speckled Wood that will now be protected from development includes the site next to Victoria Avenue and the small site behind School Road, as recommended by the Planning Inspector at the DMP Examination. Only the small area of land from Clifton Road is designated for housing development. This means that almost all of Speckled Wood must be kept as urban green space, which is a great victory for the 10 year community campaign to save this important woodland valley.
Creating a Community Owned Woodland is the next stage in the process for which Ore Community Land Trust was launched in 2009.
Although Speckled Wood is now protected from development, it is mostly in the ownership of a number of individuals and two developers, except for some areas of Council owned land, some unregistered land and the footpaths & tracks.
We have now set about strengthening our organisation and will be starting the process of acquiring land in Speckled Wood this year. To undertake this challenge we will be working with Hastings Borough Council and other organisations and making major grant applications. We will be developing an ecologically sensitive land management plan, led by a local landscape architect and involving all sections of the local community.
Our Projects to Provide New Amenities for Ore are another important aim to make Speckled Wood a really valuable community asset, while ensuring that the woodland is enhanced and animal habitat protected.
These Projects include:
• A Village Green, Children’s Play Area and Performance Space
• Restoring the Disused Allotments
• Supporting the Construction of the Ore Valley Greenway – walking & cycling Network including the section through Speckled Wood
Would You Like To Get Involved in this exciting work?
We are a membership organisation, accountable to our members and the whole community.
– You could become a member and help to influence and support the work of Ore Community Land Trust.
– We would like to recruit more members to serve on our Committee or help with specific projects – for example would you be interested in taking on an allotment? or do you have a particular skill or area of expertise that would help in our work plan?
– We would also like to find more volunteers who could help with footpath and vegetation clearance and other woodland work. – we have just started on a programme to repair and improve the network of steps that our volunteer team constructed some years ago.
Ore Community Land Trust, Ore Centre, 455 Old London Road, Hastings, TN35 5BH
Ore Community Land Trust members, supporters and local councillors attended the Trust’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday 13th June and celebrated the final stage in the successful 10 year campaign to save Speckled Wood.
The recent publication of the Planning Inspector’s final recommendations for the Hastings Development Management Plan have confirmed that almost all of Speckled Wood in the Upper Ore Valley will now become protected urban green space.
In what is without doubt a very enlightened assessment, the Planning Inspector’s report recognises the importance of this woodland valley as an attractive and tranquil area of natural beauty and the how much it is valued by the local community. He has gone further than the Borough Council’s allocation of green space and he has stated that the value of retaining this open land for the community outweighs its previous allocated use for housing development.
They heard that the Planning Inspector was influenced by the Trust’s plans to protect animal habitats, to create a small Village Green with disabled access and a children’s play area and to set up a community food growing project by reinstating disused allotments.
However, the well attended meeting was told that the Trust must now recruit more committee members to take on this new role and more volunteers to take on the footpath clearance and woodland management. It will soon be applying for funding to develop into an organisation focused on acquiring land and working on a long term plan to enhance the woodland and provide new community amenities. Discussions are underway with Hastings Borough Council about how the two organisations can work together to transform Speckled Wood into an even more valuable community asset.
After the AGM, landscape architect, Jeremy Linden, who has been working with Ore Community Land Trust gave a presentation on the Village Green and the Ore Valley Greenway projects.
Ian Sier, of Ore Community land Trust, said “This AGM marks the successful conclusion of our primary aim
to save Speckled Wood and avoid another area of valuable urban green space being lost to development. It is the result of a sustained campaign supported by individuals, organisations and local councillors and of having a clear vision for how this woodland can be enhanced and provide so much more for residents of Ore and the surrounding area
We must now get on with the challenge of obtaining funding, acquiring the land, which is in multiple ownership. We will continue to involve all sections of the local community in how it is enhanced and managed to preserve the woodland habitat while providing new facilities such as a Village Green for Ore – our first project”.
Anyone who supports the campaign and the aims of Ore Community Land Trust is encouraged to become a member and get involved in the next stage of our work. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Ore CLT, Ore Centre, 455 Old London Road, Hastings, TN35 5BH.
Hastings Development Management Plan
Extract from – Planning Inspectors Final Report May 2015
Focus Area 12 – Clive Vale & Ore Village
121. The 2 sites identified, CVO1 and CVO3, should be kept in their open state and the Trust encouraged to manage and enhance this local community asset.