As the holiday season approaches we all have holidays on our mind – dreaming of lying on shimmering sandy beaches in the hot sun or as more and more people are choosing to, retreating to a relaxing woodland cabin.
Our regular readers may remember that a couple of weeks ago we blogged about our concerns over a planning application for 130 holiday lodges within woodland near Winchester. Our concerns were clearly shared locally too and yesterday we found out that Winchester City Council has refused planning permission. Originally the Woodland Trust had reservations over the impact of these lodges on the ancient woodland. The continual presence of people within the woodland has a significantly higher impact than the same number of day visitors, disturbing wildlife at crucial times.
To understand the application further we felt it necessary to discuss our concerns with the Forestry Commission and met them on site a couple of weeks ago. During the meeting they demonstrated to us the level of detail that had gone into the application and the care to site the cabins in the least sensitive area of the woodland – dare I say it – we were even impressed with the intentions to connect people with woodland.
Here the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust are not at odds – a key aim of the Woodland Trust is increasing people’s understanding and enjoyment of woodland. Unfortunately the meeting did not allay our concerns that the development was of too higher density to be sustainable within the woodland and would eventually be detrimental to the woodland and its wildlife. So as it stands we are not totally against the development for the social benefits that it could achieve – we are waiting to see if a reduced application is developed which may well enhance the woodland rather than making it less hospitable to wildlife.