Lodges plan for Fineshade refused

Forest Holidays development director Richard Palmer & Forestry Commission forest management director Andy Medhurst at a consultation event

Forest Holidays development director Richard Palmer & Forestry Commission forest management director Andy Medhurst at a consultation event

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Plans to build holiday lodges in county woodland have been turned down by councillors.

Forest Holidays had submitted a planning application to build 70 lodges in Fineshade Woods, a scheme which attracted 123 letters of objection and opposition from many who feared the destruction of habitat for protected species and the loss of acres of woodland.

Seven parish councils opposed the plans, as well as the Wildlife Trust which said the woods are important for a wide range of woodland habitats supporting many protected species.

Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Andy Sawford met campaigners at the site last week, and gave his backing to their campaign.

The controversial plans were discussed by East Northamptonshire’s planning committee on Wednesday night, with members spending 90 minutes considering the development.

They heard from three speakers, including Barry Galpin.

He said: “We feel this obscene scene makes no sense in such a wildlife-rich space.”

Every member of the committee commented on the plans before a decision was made, including Cllr Dudley Hughes, who said: “This is a special place.

“They will all be trogging in and sitting in their hot tubs.

“These are not people who will enjoy the woods, they are going to be sitting around in the hot tubs, drinking their beer, playing their music and totally destroying the environment there.

“There’s plenty of evidence that we can refuse this application on.”

Cllr Anna Sauntson said: “We all know in our own areas that large housing developments are planned, but we need to be careful that we preserve some green areas for future generations.”

Cllr Pam Whiting said: “123 letters of objection received, including seven parish councils, CPRE and the Wildlife Trust - these people can’t be wrong.”

Planning officers had recommended the plans for approval, but the committee went against this and refused the application on the grounds of its impact on the ecology and wildlife there.

Speaking after the meeting, campaigner Tricia Galpin said: “We are absolutely relieved and we are so grateful to the councillors that took note and heard our concerns.

“There was a huge amount of local opposition.

“We just hope that the reason for refusal will save them from an appeal.”