Battle woodland plans withdrawn amid work concerns

An aerial picture of the work already carried out in connection to plans for a recreational centre in Battle woodland. Photo by Martin Whitley
An aerial picture of the work already carried out in connection to plans for a recreational centre in Battle woodland. Photo by Martin Whitley

Plans for a woodland recreation centre near Battle have been withdrawn days before they were to be decided on.

A decision on the bid by the owners of the 12 acre wood The Hammonds to host luxury holidays, family activity days and educational forest classes was supposed to be made by Rother District Council planning committee by the end of the month.

But, in a move which should please objectors, the application was withdrawn this week according to the Rother District Council website.

Battle Town councillor Kevin Dixon said people are ‘up in arms’ over the plans.

“The amount of work they have already done there is quite remarkable,” he said.

“There’s been an awful lot done before a decision is made.

“It’s a very nice part of the country which has been quite brutally chopped down with a nice driveway too, all without planning permission.

“Residents are up in arms in the area and people are pretty angry about what’s going on.”

The application included plans for a natural swimming pond, shelter, tree house classroom and boardwalk paths in the woods near Telham Lane.

Those behind the bid say it will bring income and employment prospects to the area.

But some residents, like Martin Whitley, were concerned by the work done without approval.

He said he was astonished by the level of woodland destruction and feared it was not environmentally friendly, particularly at the height of nesting season.

However, Rother District Council said developers were within their rights to do so.

“We are aware that an area of scrub land has been cleared at this site to allow for topographical and archaeological surveys to take place,” a council spokesman said.

“Our officers have recently visited the site and advise that planning permission is not required for these works.”

Mr Dixon does not believe this is the end of the story as he thinks the applicants knew their proposal would be refused.

“It normally means they were never going to get planning permission so I think they’re going to go away and try again,” he said.

“I’m pleased but apprehensive as there’s probably a further application coming in.

“The proposed use is not suitable for our area of countryside.

“You can’t even build a house there so how could they build an education centre? Especially in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

“To do all that without permission is very naughty and it’s very over-engineered for the location.”

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