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Renowned botanist claims eco houses would ruin Lyme Regis wood
RENOWNED botanist Sir Ghillean Prance claims a Lyme Regis wood would be destroyed if two new eco houses are built.
A planning application to put two timber chalets in The Woodlands in Pound Street – known as Whistler’s Wood – was due to go before Lyme Regis Town Council’s planning and highways committee last night.
Neighbours and other residents were expected to attend the meeting to raise their objections to the plans, which they say would harm the conservation area and a valuable piece of woodland.
Sir Ghillean, a professor and former director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, has added his voice to the debate and called on district planners to throw out the plans.
Previous plans from owner Quentin Craven to build two low-energy chalets were refused by district planners in November 2009.
Sir Ghillean, who lives near to the wood in Silver Street, said he is ‘distressed’ to see another application after previous applications have been ‘quite rightly turned down’.
He said to planners: “I would like to strongly recommend that you follow the same action again.”
The professor said maintenance of green areas in towns is ‘essential’ for environmental conditions and for the preservation of urban wildlife.
“As a close neighbour of this area I know that many of the birds and animals that come to my garden do so because there is an adequate refuge for them nearby in these woods,” he said.
“Any development within the wood would alter the character of our town’s conservation area.
“To place any building, whether eco or not, would damage both the ecology and the aesthetics of the area.
“The value of this area for wildlife is bound to be lost permanently if the building is allowed to go ahead.”
Sir Ghillean, who is a trustee of the Eden Project and the Amazon Charitable Trust and vice president of the Nature in Art Trust, also reminds planners of the historical importance of the wood, through its association with artist Sir Laurence Whistler.
He said: “It is a feature that adds to the many historical connections of Lyme Regis and as such is part of the amazing heritage of the town.”
The professor hopes a solution could be found to make the wood into a permanently protected green area for Lyme Regis.
“This would not only be a wise move for the local environment, but also it would be a wonderful educational facility for our schools.”
Wood owner Mr Craven has applied for permission to build two and three-bedroom dwellings, with timber walkways, limited recreational space, terraces, small gardens and one parking space each. The woodland would be owned and managed by a trust, to which Mr Craven would donate £1,500.