Developers have been given the green light to build 800 hotly-contested houses and a large link road on pristine greenfield land behind the world-renowned Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery, Stratford upon Avon, England – the hometown of Shakespeare, the world’s greatest ever playwright, and his wife, Anne Hathaway.
This is a decision of global cultural, historical and environmental importance. The development has been repeatedly rejected by the people of Stratford and the local council. But their bid to save Shakespeare’s Shottery for the nation – and the globe - was recently overturned by the UK national government.
The Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, rubberstamped the development plans, despite concluding that “there are material considerations weighing against the proposal”. He listed these as:
· impact on the landscape
· harm to the significance of heritage assets
· visual impact and harm from noise.
He acknowledged specifically that Anne Hathaway’s Gardens – one of the nation’s designated heritage assets - would be impacted as a result of visible urban development, replacing countryside as part of its setting.
This has cast the spotlight on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT). They own land behind the Grade 1-listed Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and its picturesque tranquil gardens and the developers cannot proceed without it.
To sell or not to sell? That is the question.
The decision whether to sell out to developers will be taken by the trustees. Originally we were told the executive trustees would make that decision, but now the SBT says the full board will, in fact, make the decision.
On 28 Nov, Save Shottery delivered the 'Global Warning Report' - based on comments on this petition - to the chair of trustees. The Trust went on a PR offensive saying it was keeping an 'open mind' and gathering more evidence. This petition is your chance to add comments and be part of that body of evidence. The Trust promises it is taking all relevant comments on board.
While SBT officially remain 'an objector to the proposed development', they appear equally open to the prospect of a compulsory purchase order that would bring in funds.This is at odds with their legal duty ‘to maintain and preserve the Shakespeare properties for the benefit of the nation’ and their vision of ‘leading the world’s enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times.’
It’s time for the SBT to stop procrastinating. Stratford District Council is mounting a legal challenge to the ruling, but it’s a difficult challenge. Even the Prime Minister, David Cameron, is now saying that a community’s right to challenge planning rulings should be ended.
The SBT played no part in the Planning Inquiry, save to issue their soft objection to the proposals. If they are truly AGAINST the plans, they should speak out strongly NOW and say loud and clear: “THE SHAKESPEARE BIRTHPLACE TRUST WILL NOT SELL OUT TO DEVELOPERS”.
This will be a material change to the evidence upon which the Planning Inspector and Secretary of State made their decision. This would quickly put a stop to expensive legal battles and a stop to a development that would ruin Shakespeare’s heritage. The people of Shottery, the nation, and the world will forever thank the SBT for an immediate ‘NO SELL OUT’ statement.
As Shakespeare himself said: “Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends.”
Please sign the petition now and share with others who believe SBT and the UK should not sell out on 400 years of heritage.
To find out more, visit: www.saveshottery.com
Thank you for your support.