Final plea to save trees in Lyme Regis

BATTLE GROUND: Frances Whistler, foreground, with protesters at Whistler’s Wood

BATTLE GROUND: Frances Whistler, foreground, with protesters at Whistler’s Wood

First published in News by

OBJECTORS have made a ‘last-ditch attempt’ to save a Lyme Regis woodland from development.

A public awareness rally was held on Saturday at the Pound Street wood, also known as Whistler’s Wood, when protestors waved banners calling for ‘common sense’.

They believe it is not too late to change planners’ minds over proposals to build two timber houses among the trees.

The objectors were led by Frances Whistler, daughter of glass engraver and former owner Laurence Whistler, who the wood is named after.

Ms Whistler said her parents would be ‘devastated’ by the proposals put forward by applicant Quentin Craven, who inherited the land from his parents after it was sold to them by the Whistlers. Ms Whistler said: “My parents absolutely loved this wood and protected it against development – at one point it was going to be compulsorily purchased and made into a car park back in the 1960s.”

She believes the area is too small for the two eco-houses, which would include the setting up of a trust to ensure the wood’s long-term preservation.

The plans went before West Dorset District Council’s development control committee last month, with a recommendation for their approval.

But members deferred a decision until they make a site visit and get more information about the trust. Ms Whistler organised Saturday’s event to gather support and encourage people to see the 200-year-old wood in case it was their last opportunity.

She said: “I just wanted people to have a chance to see it.

“I have been very touched and pleased by people turning out.”

Helen Thompson’s daughter used to play in the wood as a child so she took the opportunity to see it one more time.

Mrs Thompson, of Combpyne, said she hated the thought of the wood being lost to building developers.

Vicki Moore, of View Road, Lyme Regis, said: “It’s one of those few places in Lyme that can be looked at as being rare nature.”

Raymond’s Hill resident Anna White had never seen inside before. She said: “In a way you can’t stop progress but it’s a lovely wildlife oasis.”

Ann Bird, who lives next to the wood, said: “For most people in Lyme it would be a tragedy if this is lost, not just for the neighbours.”

Wendy Alexander, organiser of the Lyme Regis in Bloom competition, said: “Anyone building in the wood will undoubtedly cut down trees and branches – they will obviously be in the way and the earth will be covered with yet more concrete rendering it sterile for insect life and bird food.”

The next development control meeting is on April 18 but councillors have not had their site visit yet.

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