Save Redlands Farm
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The planners are still considering the preferred options from the revised local plan that they will put forward to Weymouth & Portland Borough Council (W&PBC) for consideration as they move forward to the next stage. The decision date for the W&PBC Full Council is currently set to be completed by 31 May 2018 but we will monitor this and let you know if it changes. At this point we have no idea if Redlands Farm will still be included in the preferred options.
Following the review of the preferred options by both W&PBC and West Dorset the revised local plan will be subject to further public consultation. After that consultation further revision may take place before the plan is put forward to the Government with the intention of having a completely revised plan in place for adoption in December 2019.
When the planners have the “Local Plan Review Preferred Options” consultation document ready it will be put forward to firstly to the W&PBC Policy Development Committee, then the W&PBC Council Management Committee and finally before the full W&PBC Council. The embedded links will take you to the committee pages that list the members.
As the consultation is moving onto the next phase we feel that this is the right time to re-open the petition. The reason for this is that hopefully we can encourage more people to sign up before Preferred Options are put before the council committees and to give people the chance to directly lobby both their own councillors, and those that form the committees.
The date for when the Preferred Options document is put before the council has already been moved later than original planned and may move again. The delays gives us more time to get our views across to the councillors. We monitor the Council website and get automatic updates so will know when the Preferred Options document will be up before the Council. The first time we will know if Redlands Farm is still one of the preferred options will be a week before it is put before the W&PBC Policy Development Committee as it will be included in the supporting documents for the agenda.
The public can attend and speak for 3 minutes at the Council meetings and at least two of us will do so. If Redlands Farm is not one of the Preferred Options, we will still speak at the meeting to try and ensure that it does not get put back in as an option.
Please spread the word and details of this petition to anyone that you know that would like to see Redlands Farm preserved and not become yet another housing estate. Contact your local councillor or one of the committee members to let your feelings be known. The W&PBC Lead Member and Briefholder for Environment and Sustainability, responsible for the Local Plan is Councillor Ray Nowak so you can contact him directly as per the link.
We will keep you all updated as we move into the next phase and let us all hope that sense prevails and Redlands Farm is not included as an option for housing development.
What is Redlands Farm?
Redlands Farm is 38 acres of open farmland adjoining Weymouth that is under threat of becoming yet another housing development without any thought to the loss to the beauty, ecology or amenity to the local area and the people who live there.
Redlands Farm is in Weymouth, Dorset and is in a unique position where the urban town directly meets the countryside. It covers 38 acres of land that is currently located within the Weymouth green buffer zone and sits between the Dorchester Road and the river Wey and forms part of the Wey valley.
How can you help?
If you want to help then please support this online petition and pass it onto your friends. Please see below for more information on the farm and the threats to the location if we do not act to prevent this land being lost to yet more development.
The Long Term Threat
The land is currently owned by the Dorchester branch of the Society of Oddfellows (Oddfellows) and has been let under tenancy to a local farmer Pip Langdown, also known locally as Farmer P.
Pip has been tenant on the farm for the past 10 years but when the tenancy came up for renewal this March they only offered her a 6 month grazing agreement up until September 30th rather than a full tenancy and the indication that they may be seeking to put the land up for sale in the future rather than continue with it being actively farmed.
On the 23rd of March a revised planning application was submitted for the construction of 340 homes on land directly abutting the northern edge of Redlands Farm.(Site Plan) In addition there is planning permission for an additional 10 homes by Betterments on the north east corner of the main development site. (Betterments Plan)
It can only be surmised that the Society is hoping that if the existing planning application to the north of the farm is successful then in the future the land they own could also be considered for an extension to that development, therefore vastly increasing its value. This is backed up by the inclusion of land at Redlands Farm in the council “Issues and Options” review of the current “West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Local Plan” for the potential building of 200 new homes. (Local Plan Review)
The Short Term Threat
Pip is on site 7 days a week so there is a constant presence to keep an eye on the land and prevent illegal use. If there was no longer anyone on-site keeping a watchful eye on the land this than could lead to a number of problems. It is well known that illegal fly-tipping is on the increase and if this did happen, not only would it become an eyesore, but it could also become a health hazard.
A few years ago travellers set up camp in the top fields but luckily prompt action saw them moved on the following day. The land could also become the venue for unofficial camping, late night parties and raves especially as it is so close to a main road for access. The mess that these people would leave behind would desecrate the land and the enjoyment of many walkers would come to an end. With the use of social media, once it becomes known that there is an area of land that is not being actively controlled, then that news will rapidly spread well beyond the local area.
The farm buildings, if left unused, would at a minimum be vandalized and become dangerous or possibly go up in flames.
If Pip has to leave in September a number of the older cows would have to be put down, even if she can find somewhere else to go, as they would not be able to stand up to travelling a long distance.
The Farm Today
The farm runs a single suckler herd of Charolais-Aberdeen Angus cross and Charolais and Belgium Blue cross cattle, they calve from early December through to February they then remain with their mother until they are weaned in early September After weaning some of the cattle are then sold and move on to another farm within an hours drive of Weymouth some are kept back for breeding when they are old enough.
The main heard have a new man in their lives in the form of a pedigree Aberdeen Angus bull called Grandon Princess Porthos who goes under the easier nick name Port.
The farm is organically farmed, but not certified, and the only fertilizer that is spread is the well-rotted manure that has been left to rot down for a number years. There are no chemical fertilizers used so as not to harm the local ecosystem.
In addition to the cattle Pip also has a small number of pigs with a sow called Polly and her 8 mixed piglets. Soon they will be allowed to come out of their unit to romp about on the plot that their dad Buster does. Buster is currently living the bachelor life but he does have a radio to listen to but he does miss the company of Polly to snuggle up to keep to warm.
Finally, Pip also keeps a small flock of rescued hens that are free range and supply some of the locals with fresh eggs.
The Local Amenity
There are a number of Public Footpaths that run across the land and alongside it that allow people to enjoy the countryside and the river Wey right next to an urban environment. The footpaths lead across to some of the other areas that form part of Weymouth such as the villages of Nottington and Radipole. The paths are very popular with walkers, many with their dogs, not only from the immediate vicinity but from other areas in Weymouth as well.
As the farm is organically farmed and there is only a low intensity of activity there are a number of wildlife species that can be found across the site. Among the more obvious mammals are deer, foxes , rabbits, hedgehogs and although no specific survey has been carried out there will be other smaller mammals on site. There are a number of well established hedgerows forming boundaries to some of the fields and these provide not only cover but corridors that enable the wildlife to move round the area.
With the hedgerows, open grazed fields and the river and water meadows to the east of the site there is a variety of habitats that encourage a number of different bird species. As well as thrushes, sparrows, blackbirds and a number of other species you can also find wild pheasants and, down by the river, ducks, herons and even a kingfisher. During the survey of the land to the north of the farm 39 bird species were recorded.
We would welcome anyone with a greater knowledge of our local fauna and flora to visit the site to carry out a more detailed survey of what animal and bird species are here.
What can you do?
None of this will happen unless we can join to together and make our views known, so please please sign the on-line petition, pass the link onto to your friends, and get them to pass it onto their friends. It only takes a few moments out of everyone's busy lives but if we can rescue Redlands Farm then you can say “I helped to save a piece of our countryside”.
It does not matter where your friends or their friends live, it can be in the Outer Hebrides or Timbuktu, but what matters is that they are doing something that we hope will turn into something special for generations to come.
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