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Thorley Lane East Woods: New fight for action group to save wildlife haven in face of planning application for four-bedroom house

Thorley Lane East Woods Action Group is gearing up for a fresh fight to defend the wildlife haven from development.

A planning application for a four-bedroom “passive” house on the site of the woodland and new access has been submitted to East Herts Council.

The campaigners first mobilised in August 2022 when the woodland was carved up into lots for auction and a Bishop’s Stortford Town Council bid to buy and safeguard the whole site was rejected.

Thorley Lane East Woods
Thorley Lane East Woods

They aimed to “stop the wanton vandalism of the woodlands” with the rallying cry: “Our fight is to protect the trees and the flora and fauna around them.”

This week, the residents were mobilising once more with one aim: “Let’s do our best to put any thoughts of building development in the woods to bed for the final time and get the owners to keep to their responsibilities of looking after this space for the benefit of the trees and the community that surrounds them.”

The Planning Consultancy, based in Buntingford, is behind the new application to build in what it calls Rooks Wood at Thorley Lane East.

Thorley Lane East Woods plan submitted to East Herts Council
Thorley Lane East Woods plan submitted to East Herts Council

The company describes the three-hectare (7.4-acre) site as “dilapidated and unusable” and claims in a design and access statement: “The proposed dwelling would provide funds to revitalise the woodland to make it a usable space for the surrounding community.”

The statement says that removing dead trees, which “currently pose a safety risk”, would cost up to £50,000, but, once cleared, the site could be used by schools and community groups.

It describes the proposed new home, with green roofs and walls, in a former 0.5-hectare (1.23-acre) paddock as a “green enveloped dwelling in a clearing away from the road” accessed by a crossing over the existing ditch. It would be built with no-dig foundations to protect the roots of surrounding trees.

Within hours of the plans appearing online, residents were already urging East Herts to reject the application for the land next to Southern Country Park, bordering Thorley Park and St Michael’s Mead.

Stop is the message to potential buyers
Stop is the message to potential buyers

One wrote: “This woodland has a TPO (tree preservation order) covering the whole site, is in Green Belt land and provides a continuation of habitats for local wildlife… and is not appropriate for building on.”

Another neighbour warned: “Once again plans to desecrate important natural land. There is a vital small woodland here. There is a vital recreational park here. This is a narrow lane with walkers including children and dogs. The location is completely unsuitable for the proposed construction. It is unnecessary apart from personal financial profit. I object.”

Applications for a home and garage were submitted in 1994 and 2002; both were refused by the planning authority and again at appeal.

To see planning applications and other public notices for your area, visit publicnoticeportal.uk.

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