Fight is on to save Lancaster wildlife haven from developers

Photo Neil Cross'Councillors and residents protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster
Photo Neil Cross'Councillors and residents protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster
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Lancaster residents say they will fight “tooth and nail” to save an infamous piece of woodland in the city from

development.

Photo Neil Cross'Councillors and residents protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster

Photo Neil Cross'Councillors and residents protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster

Plans have been submitted to build 250 new homes at the Freeman’s Wood site off New Quay Road, which has been described as a haven for wildlife and people.

Plans for the site, were previously submitted by owners The Property Trust Plc in 2010 and included housing, office and leisure space.

But councillors submitted an application to designate the space a Town Green, and reports by residents of trees being cut down on the site led to the city council placing a Tree Preservation Order on the land.

Landowners The Property Trust appealed against the decision, saying no “reasonable person” would describe Freemans Wood as woodland, the city council disagreed.

Photo Neil Cross'Jon Barry protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster

Photo Neil Cross'Jon Barry protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster

The Town Green application is still pending.

The land is currently designated as urban green space in the council’s Land Allocations Document, and in 2015 became part of an art project on land ownership because of its links to the global economy.

Ward Coun Jon Barry said: “I am already involved in two legal actions to try to stop Satnam’s (developers) plans.

“However, it is vital that those against the scheme oppose this planning application. Freeman’s Wood should be a green lung for the Marsh.

Photo Neil Cross'Dog walkers protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster

Photo Neil Cross'Dog walkers protesting against housing plans on Freeman's Wood in Lancaster

An application for three footpaths by the Friends of Freeman’s Wood was approved by the County Council in 2014.

Coun Barry said that Satnam and the Lune Industrial Estate Ltd are taking Lancashire County Council to court in a judicial review of the way that the Town Green application was processed, and are “trying to render the application invalid”.

This is due to appear in the High Court in Manchester later this year.

Lancaster resident Simon Thomas said: “Freemans Wood has been a valuable local green space for local people for decades.

“We want to see it protected as a town green for the use of future generations, including the hundreds of people living in all the new houses already being built along the quayside.”

Ruth Haigh said: “Freeman’s Wood is home to many species of birds, and mammals such as roe deer and hares.

“It is part of a wildlife corridor from the river Lune, Freeman’s Pools and the Fairfield nature reserve.

“Building here is likely to adversely affect the wildlife in these areas.

“We are also concerned about the amount of traffic that will be generated on the quay, Lune Road and West Road.

“It will be difficult for children to go to a local school, given that Willow Lane and Dallas Road schools are already full.

“This land would better serve the area by begin turned into a community woodland for people to relax in, to absorb pollution and for the benefit of wildlife.”

Peter Cakebread said: “I’ve used Freeman’s Wood regularly for nearly twenty years.

“It is a much loved and vital green space in our community, and we will do everything we can to save it.

“We are keenly aware that the Labour Group at the City Council has made clear its intention that Freeman’s Wood should remain recreational green space, by designating it as such in the local plan.

“Government requirements have imposed on Lancaster the requirement to build more houses than most of us think are needed. But even under immense pressure the Labour City Council has maintained its commitment to keeping Freeman’s Wood free for all.

“We’d encourage all residents of the area to lodge an objection.

This can be done by going online to https://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning and searching for application 18/01520/OUT.”