More than ninety protesters gathered at Tenter Hill Meadow, the site at the end of Wessex Close, Peterborough to voice their objection to housing plans on what they see as a protected site of environmental interest.
Joined by Cllrs John Whitby and Cllr Christian Hogg, the protesters at this evening’s (July 18) meeting included angry local residents, supporters of a the environment and members of the 3rd Nene Scout Group (Stanground).
Many interested locals who remember when this particular site was common land, all added their voices to a lengthy petition calling on Peterborough City Council to reconsider the plans that they say will devastate an area of local, natural beauty.
Caroline Lumley, Group Scout Leader of the 3rd Nene Scout Group explained: “My main objection to this housing development is that we shall lose all of the outside space for us to be able to take our young people – of which there are approximately one hundred who use this building during the week – to do outdoor activities, sports, training and general fitness”.
Readers with long memories will recall the devastation arsonists caused by fire in 2004, in which the 3rd Nene Scout Group hut was burnt to the ground; but the Group, who have been on the site for more than forty years providing youngsters in the area with a focus for training, camping, outdoor and indoor adventuring as well as survival training and many sporting activities rebuilt their hut at a cost of £64,000 thanks to the good deeds of supporters across the community.
“All of that is now at risk”, Caroline went on to say. “This used to be a lovely area that people could come and have picnics at with children safe to play. The grass all used to kept neat and well cut, but now it has been left to grow wild and that happened after the Council bought up the land through the Land Registry and zoned it for ‘Bio-Diversity’. Since then, none of it has been cut with the exception of the small area next to the Scout Hut which we had to fight for so we could use it for sports, rounder’s and tent-pitching, but of course we shall lose all of that”
Peter Lumley, another of the Group Scout Leaders of the 3rd Nene Scout Group added: “Because the council have not cut the grass and it has been left to grow it is now very high, wispy grass and very much a fire hazard, especially in this hot weather. Nobody has contacted us to tell us we have to vacate the site, but also we have no alternative sight – obviously you cannot just move a building of this type which had to be constructed after the fire on two reinforced concrete rafts”.
Addressing the crowd in excess of ninety persons, Cllr David Whitby pointed out: “This is the second such meeting that we have organised on this site and I thought that I would be talking to many of the same people who gathered here a few weeks ago, but I am delighted to see that many of you are new faces which is wonderful”. Cllr Whitby began by explaining the details of the outline planning bid for the strip of land known as Tenter Hill Meadow, on which the current plan is to erect some 30 dwellings. “I remember when this piece of land was well maintained, when people would come and enjoy this meadow, have picnics, play football and just enjoy the beautiful scenery looking over the river”, Cllr Whitby continued.
“For some strange reason, three years ago the Council decided to save money by calling this a ‘Bio-Diversity’ area, and not cut it, while at the same time looking at it as a potential site for housing. Obviously there is no connection between the two. This is the last open area that is useable this side of Chapel Street, Thistle Drive and effectively Coneygree Road. You’ve got one small play area down by Chapel Street, but there is nothing else. Tenter Hill Meadow is bordered by a very nice housing estate mixed with houses and flats, small businesses and the community centre. There are a lot of children in this area, and they need to have an area in which they can play in safety, and where there parents can find them. As a Councillor we are constantly being reminded that one of the biggest crisis we face in Peterborough is obesity among our children. We are told all the time that we must find ways to get children away from their computers, mobile phones and sofas and get them outdoors to be active and get fit. Yet, here we are suggesting that we should take away from them not only an open space where they can play in safety away from traffic, but at the same time we would lose the Scouting Hut which has stood on this site for more than forty years and severed countless thousands of children over the years on their path to fitness and adulthood. This area should be a fabulous community asset, and, if we could get the grass cut, it will be once again. I have requested the Council urgently cut this grass because it is now a very serious fire hazard”.
Cllr Christian Hogg went on to explain to the protestors the effect of building houses on Tenter Hill Meadow would have on the roads around the area: “As you can see from our gathering this evening the sheer number of cars here have effectively blocked the narrow roads leading up to the meadow. Just imagine the chaos that would ensue if there thirty more houses built on this site. The danger to children from traffic cannot be underestimated and each end of Wessex Close would need to be drastically altered to allow access”.
“I am delighted that you have all come here to protest the alteration of this site in any way”, Cllr Hogg added. “I congratulate you on gathering together a petition which I hope all of you have signed and many more will, which must be sent into the Council to bring to their attention your wishes that Tenter Hill Meadow remain as a community asset and that you take back control of it. So, what are we going to do about it? Well, it’s not for one person or one group of people to take it upon themselves to get his work done, you are all of you involved. You actions, starting with tonight show a swell of community spirit which must be taken to the Town Hall where you anger about these plans must be made aware of. Make you representations to the Council via the website or by post and let them know that this is your community and that you are prepared to fight for it”.
Cllrs Hogg and Whitby then joined the protesters behind a huge banner which read: “No To Development On Tenter Hill Meadow”, and was accompanied with the action website setup for those who wish to join the protest against the housing development: www.savetenterhill.org.uk