Fineshade campaigners to celebrate glamping plans refusal

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The plans for 15 glamping pods and an associated building were refused

Supporters of a campaign to prevent development of a wildlife-rich meadow in a North Northants beauty spot are to celebrate the plans being thrown out by holding a nature ramble.

The Friends of Fineshade action group had vowed to fight the latest in a long line of planning applications threatening the Rockingham Forest land at Top Lodge Fineshade, on the land close to the Forestry Commission-owned visitor centre at Fineshade Woods.

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Planning officers at North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) refused the application for a warden’s caravan, 15 glamping pods, hardstandings including roadways and parking areas and a toilet/washing block.

The field near Top LodgeThe field near Top Lodge
The field near Top Lodge

Campaigners Barrie and Trish Galpin said: "Heartfelt thanks to every single Friend who sent an email, or wrote a letter, or filed an objection online. But particular thanks must go to the campaign team - who spent loads of time researching, formulating arguments, lobbying consultees and bringing everything to a satisfactory conclusion.

"The purpose of Friends of Fineshade is 'Enjoying and protecting Fineshade Wood' and what better way to celebrate our protecting success than to come and do some enjoying, in the company of Brian Laney?"

On Saturday, September 4, at 10.30am Mr Laney will lead a walk starting from Top Lodge looking at the late summer flowers to mark the campaign success.

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Objections from 126 people were sent to NNC with planning officers refusing the application from Countrywide Park Homes Ltd for the 2.8 hectare site (nearly seven acres).

A map showing the applicationA map showing the application
A map showing the application

The report refused permission for four main reasons - the character of the development, its benefit as a wildlife area, its proximity to the historic Top Lodge farmhouse and access routes.

It said "the proposal would result in visual harm to the character and appearance of the locality and wider landscape" adding that the "the site is part of a landscape which has a valued openness and great degree of tranquillity even when close to Top Lodge and the associated leisure activities at the Visitor Centre."

Problems with vehicle parking, refuse and recycling bins, noise and disturbance and lighting were also cited as being contrary to North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy policies that requires new development to 'respect landscape character and to be located and designed in a way that is sensitive to its landscape setting, retaining and where possible enhancing the distinctive qualities of the landscape character area which it would affect'.

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The application site has been designated as a Local Wildlife Site (LWS), for its populations of all four county reptile species (adder, slow-worm, grass snake and common lizard), partially protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The decision said that "as such the proposal would cause significant harm to biodiversity".

Due to the open field's close proximity to Grade-II listed Top Lodge Farmhouse used at the Fineshade Wood Visitor Centre officers said that the proposal 'would cause harm to the setting, and in turn the significance of the listed building'.

Finally the narrow Top Lodge Road to the site was said to be 'insufficient carriageway width and lack of footway provision' and would be to the 'detriment of highway safety'.

The owners have six months to appeal the decision with campaigners hopeful that the field might be purchased locally to create a community nature reserve.

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