Campaigners set to oppose £11m holiday lodge plan for woodland

Fineshade Woods
Fineshade Woods

Campaigners are drawing up battle plans to fight an £11m proposal for 84 holiday lodges in Fineshade Woods.

Forest Holidays, which runs nine similar retreats in the UK, is planning to build the cabins on a 500-acre site at the beauty spot near Corby which is managed by the Forestry Commission.

Residents of Fineshade claim the scheme will destroy some of the woodlands’ wildlife habitats if it goes ahead.

Tricia and Barrie Galpin, keen naturalists who live in Fineshade, say all its 19 residents are against the plans.

Mrs Galpin said: “Thousands of people from Northamptonshire visit Fineshade each year and it is causing considerable concern, not to say horror. Over a third of the cabin sites are surrounded by ancient woodland indicators, including prolific bluebells, wood anemones and dogs mercury and some ancient coppice stools.

“Some very old trees marked for felling show potential for use by roosting bats.

“The whole western area is being heavily used by badgers and the proposed buildings and roads are close to actively worked setts.

“The buildings would be adjacent to vegetated ponds and old ditches showing potential for holding great crested newts.

“Potential adder habitats are a matter of concern, as well as the destruction of nesting bird habits.”

Mrs Galpin said there are also concerns over traffic, if the plans are approved. Forest Holidays is co-owned by The Forestry Commission and private equity firm LDC. Earlier this year, it held a consultation event with residents to discuss its plans.

The company says the scheme would provide 60 full-time jobs and about 40 support positions.

At the meeting Forest Holidays’ development director Richard Palmer said: “Our cabins are low-key. You are not going to see big concrete structures. It is in our interests to preserve the forest.”

The plans have not been submitted to East Northants Council but the company aims to start work on the cabins this year, if permission is granted. No-one from the company was available to comment on residents’ concerns.