Standing room only for public meeting about housing plans for Lancaster’s Freeman’s Wood

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More than 100 residents of the Marsh and surrounding areas attended a standing-room-only public meeting to voice their opposition to plans to build 250 houses on Freeman’s Wood.

The meeting was organised by the Friends of Freeman’s Wood, with speakers including local councillor Jon Barry and local wildlife expert Simon Thomas.

Issues such as flood risk, the valuable biodiversity of the site and the loss of a long-standing recreation area were discussed.

The wood, which contains a large open space, has been used by local people for many decades. It is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, including bats, deer, foxes and visiting and nesting birds. Wildlife and environmental protection bodies have criticised the plans for development and recommended that planning permission is refused.

Around 130 local people have responded to the consultation already, with comments such as: “This land is Freeman’s Wood, not some waste land up for grabs by the highest bidder,” and “It is self evident that building 250 more dwellings will have a negative impact on [the] traffic problem.”

Campaigners are urging local residents to object to the planning application before it is considered by the city council’s planning committee, which could be in late April.

Emily Heath, secretary of Friends of Freeman’s Wood, said: “Hundreds of new homes have already been built nearby on the quay, so we really need to keep this lovely green space so that all the new and existing residents have somewhere to relax, explore, play and walk their dogs.”

The group would welcome offers of help from local experts, particularly those with knowledge of contaminated land, hydrology, bat habitats and other relevant fields.

And they have set up a crowdfunder because they are involved in a court case which has been brought by the developers to challenge the group’s application to designate the wood as a Town Green.

Emily said: “If you can donate a small amount to help us pay for legal representation, please search for Friends of Freeman’s Wood on the Golden Giving website.

“You can also get involved by joining the ‘Save Freemans Woods’ Facebook group, or by emailing emilyheath@phonecoop.coop.”