Ambitious plans for Battle woodland development

Penny Macduff and her project manager at the new development site off Telham Lane. SUS-151113-140946001
Penny Macduff and her project manager at the new development site off Telham Lane. SUS-151113-140946001

A forest school is just one of the ambitious plans for the 12-acre woodland near Battle, according to its developer.

Penny Macduff wants to provide space for the school with a natural swimming pond and tree house, as well as a boutique holiday let at the Telham Lane site.

She also wants to offer ‘well-paid’ horticultural apprenticeships to people struggling to get back into work.

“We think it’s a balanced project as it is serving a community purpose in terms of getting people back into education and providing apprenticeships and training at a time when local youth don’t have those kind of opportunities,” she said.

“Through forest school and getting children outside and into the environment, you can teach them maths, physics, all the sciences, as well as the obvious ones of nature, ecology and geography.

“You can find what inspires them and that to me is far better than sitting in a classroom behind a desk.

“I’m not advocating that everyone home schools their children and takes them out of education but I think as an experience and an additive, it really helps.”

There is little of value in terms of trees and plants according to the arboriculturist’s report.

But Mrs Macduff plans to maintain the woodland properly, plant wild cherries to support the wildlife and maples to teach children how to make natural syrup.

There is already a small lodge with permission for a holiday let but she hopes to expand it to make it more disabled-friendly.

In fact, the entire plot will be as accessible as possible with a boardwalk through the forest and a lift up to the tree house.

Mrs Macduff said this was particularly important because it means less-abled children can feel included and the whole family can enjoy the woodland.

Despite withdrawing her application, the developer plans to resubmit once issues around access are resolved.

Mrs Macduff said that although this is a business venture, she is trying to promote a healthier way of life by being outdoors.

“It’s a huge investment,” she said.

“I would be lying if I didn’t say it is a form of investment, it’s a form of business in that the holiday let needs to bring in revenue.

“But it is a lifestyle choice as what I’m trying to say is to get outside, slow a down a little bit and enjoy life.”

The developer said she is a tree hugger which her neighbours may not understand.

“I’m a bit of a tree hugger, I know my neighbours wouldn’t necessarily understand that, but I am very into conservation,” Mrs Macduff said.

She bought the land partly to offset carbon as her business accumulates a lot of airmiles.

Owner defends Battle woodland development

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