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Land near Anne Hathaway's Cottage sold for relief road

Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

This is the full version of a statement issued to the Herald this week by Lynn Beddoe, head of PR and public affairs at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, responding to various criticisms of the trust's decision to sell Briar Furlong, a piece of land behind Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Shottery, to assist the development of an 800-home housing scheme. The land is needed by the developers to build a relief road on the site. A shortened version of this statement is in the current issue of the Herald.

"Our press release (3rd October) sets out the key conditions that the developers needed to meet before the trustees would consider the possibility of selling the small parcel of land which is required for a short portion of the link road between the two housing developments. The non-negotiable requirements included the following:

. Safeguarding views from Anne Hathaway's Cottage, its gardens and grounds up to the brow of Bordon Hill for future generations. This includes views to the horizon up to half a mile away.

. The redesign of the proposed road, by sinking it into a cutting and creating a gently sloping embankment and planting to visually obscure all vehicles which would use the new link road.

. Specialist mitigation works to reduce the impact of any increased noise or lighting levels.

. New and improved surface water drainage schemes to protect the Cottage

. New boundary treatments, field accesses and pathways

. A link to a new potential car and coach park to create an improved approach to the Cottage and remove traffic from Cottage Lane, adjacent to the Cottage itself (subject to planning consent)

. Influencing the creation of sensitive traffic calming measures in Cottage Lane.

"By opposing the developers' proposals and holding firm to these non-negotiable requirements for the past few years, the trustees have been able to secure the setting of Anne Hathaway's Cottage for future generations. In addition, and most importantly, the Trust has secured a legal covenant to protect permanently about 45 acres of land, including 28 acres not owned by the trust.

"Of course the developers' proposal which was considered by the Trustees on Saturday included an indicative purchase price. The proposed value of the sale has been endorsed by an independent

registered valuer, in accordance with the requirements of the Charities Act. However, Trustees agreed that this value should remain confidential, pending further detailed negotiations to reach a binding agreement with the developers.

"The advice from the trust's independent professional advisers is that the 800 homes in the proposed housing development have full planning consent and are categorised as a commitment in the SDC draft Core Strategy (2011-2031), and that a large housing development will proceed in the area now that the principle has been established, with or without the link road. A refusal to sell would have sacrificed all the hard fought for protections and left the trust and Anne Hathaway's Cottage open to the prospect of enveloping development over which it could have no control or influence.

"We would like to address the criticism from some quarters that the trust has not taken into account the views of local residents. The trustees fully appreciate that that the developers' proposals have provoked strong views - for and against - particularly locally; after all many of our staff and volunteers, including trustees, live and work here. Every representation received on this matter has been circulated to trustees. However, trustees have a legal responsibility to act only in the best interests of the charity they serve. Much as they may empathise with other people's concerns, they cannot take into account wider factors such as the demand for - and objections to - housing, except as it affects the interest of the trust.

"The full Board of trustees had agreed to accept the decision of the meeting which was decided by simple majority, and only the outcome was announced to the Trustees by Electoral Reform Services. Details of which trustees took part in the meeting remain confidential."

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