Crucial point approaches in battle for Meon woodland

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The wooded area at Meon Vale threatened by developers. Photo: Wil Perry

CAMPAIGNERS battling to protect a woodland area which was part of the appeal of their new homes face a critical moment in their fight to save it when Stratford District Council’s cabinet meets tomorrow, Monday.

People living in Meon Vale are alarmed that woods that have proved invaluable to their community during lockdown have been put forward as a possible site for further homes.

A group known as Friends of Meon Vale Woodland Walk raised the issue on a letter to the Herald, published in the current issue of the paper, in response to a previous story highlighting the risk the woods could be considered as suitable for future development.

The letter said: “This mature woodland, with its two miles of walks and picnic areas, has become a real lifeline to residents of Meon Vale and the surrounding areas; especially during the current pandemic.

“During a time in which mental wellbeing has become such a prominent issue, this easily accessible and beautiful outside space has provided an oasis within an otherwise increasingly developed area.

“With access direct from the Greenway, the woods are in constant use, providing a relaxing escape, a stimulating space to exercise, and an opportunity for the inquisitive ‘next generation’ to get away from their screens and connect with nature.

“The woods contain a variety of habitats from grasslands and water courses, through to forest floor and canopy. These habitats provide protection for a multitude of wildlife, including protected species of butterfly, water vole, bats, badger and pole cat.

“Not only is this green lung an environmentally focussed hub for local leisure activities, but for many, this was the reason for moving to Meon Vale in the first place; an exciting and unique place in which to raise a family, and ultimately call home.”

It then highlighted concerns that developer St Modwen was ignoring the benefit of the woodlands for those living there and that the setting was a big part of the appeal of the new community when people moved in.

The letter continued: “The woods were originally listed as a reserve site within Stratford District Council’s site allocation plan earlier this year. Since then it has been upgraded to a site specific proposal, without the consultation of local residents. It is deeply troubling to realise that developers such as these might brush aside the concerns and views of local residents so easily.

“With this in mind, we place all of our hope and trust in the members of the Stratford District Council to see what a valuable asset the woods and stand up against such a destructive proposition during the October 5th cabinet meeting.

“We ask them to throw out the proposal which would otherwise rip out the heart of our community, only to replace it with another 300 houses.”

See this Thursday’s Herald to see how the council’s cabinet responded to the issue and reactions from the community.