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Taken from West Berkshire Council Case Number 20/01238/OUTMAJ:

Exert from an email from the Tree Officer to the Planning Department: "This site has approximately 25 acres classed as ancient woodland (not PAWS), making it not only an important site locally but nationally".

Exert from a letter from the Woodland Trust dated 31 July 2020 to the Planning Department: "There is no wholly exceptional reason for the development in this location and as such this development should be refused on the grounds it does not comply with national planning policy".

Exert from a letter from Natural England dated 20 July 2020 to the Planning Department: "Natural England advises that the proposals as presented have the potential to adversely affect woodland classified on the ancient Woodland Inventory"

Exert from a letter from the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire Wildlife Trusts dated 24 July 2020 to the Planning Department: "There remain significant ecological issues with the proposal"

Sandleford. Why is this area so special? It is astounding that this area holds 7 ancient woodlands in close proximity, developing naturally and dating from before 1600. These ancient woodlands are linked and provide the SOLE habitat for many species of animal and plant, many protected in the UK such as the hazel dormouse, barbastelle bat, fieldfare thrush and the lapwing.  The ancient wood pasture and parkland containing ancient trees and historic hedgerow, all of which is under threat.

To put things in perspective, these trees have stood while the armies of the 2 Battles of Newbury in the 1640s marched past them using the public footpath on their way to Sandleford Priory. This time they face a battle for their own survival as the Secretary of State is hearing a case to build 1000 of the intended 1500 homes here, a planning application refused by West Berkshire Council.  If this decision is overruled then these homes will be built.

Sandleford was the inspiration for the book Watership Down by Richard Adams. Richard played in these fields as a child and it was here, surrounded by its beauty, that he watched the rabbits and hares play and later wrote his classic story. 

Why should I sign?

If approved this development will cause the extinction of Sandleford and the loss of irreplaceable habitat and species:

  • This development is not needed. West Berkshire has around 8 years of already approved homes and more in the pipeline.
  • The Developer would avoid building zero carbon in line with Government's plans to 'Build Back Better', which enables the transition to net zero.  The housing numbers, design and build have a moral duty to be adapted to this irreplaceable landscape.

The Government National Planning Policy Framework (para 175c) states that planning permission should be refused if the development will result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees unless there are "WHOLLY EXCEPTIONAL" reasons. Footnote 58: For example, "nationally significant infrastructure projects, orders under the Transport and Works Act and hybrid bills".  This is clearly not the situation with this planning application.

But there's hope:

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT. Please sign this petition and share it far and wide to call on the Secretary of State to refuse this Appeal and look to establish Sandleford as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) as suggested by the Berks, Buck and Oxon Wildlife Trust during this Appeal.