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Call to join fight to stop 67,000 trees being felled in Grantham

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Nearly 2,000 people have objected to plans for a major housing development in Grantham which would destroy 67,000 trees, while pressure also grows from local politicians.

The Woodland Trust is urging people to have their say on the proposed plans for 4,000 homes at the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, off Somerby Hill, before a consultation closes today (Friday).

The proposed development would result in the loss of 67,000 trees which were planted by the local community between 2012 and 2014 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Woodland Trust and local residents are opposing the plans. (48546218)
The Woodland Trust and local residents are opposing the plans. (48546218)

The final tree was planted by Princess Anne with staff and pupils from what is now The West Grantham Primary Academy.

It was back in 2016 that it was confirmed the barracks, located to the east of Grantham, would be discontinued by the Ministry of Defence and redeveloped to accommodate up to 4,000 new homes.

The 183-hectare site was allocated in the South Kesteven District Council Local Plan (2011-2036) for the new development, as well as eight hectares of “employment generating uses”.

Now, under current plans drawn up by Homes England 0 per cent of the trees – described by The Woodland Trust as a “green lung” for the town – would be removed to make way for the new housing development.

The revelation led to the launch of a campaign by The Woodland Trust, which has its headquarters in Grantham, to demand the trees be saved.

As of Wednesday, more than 2,000 objections to the felling of trees had been submitted to the trust’s campaign.

Meanwhile, Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council, this week called on Homes England to consider revising their plans.

He tweeted: “Come on @HomesEngland, lets design a better scheme in partnership with stakeholders including the @WoodlandTrust that protects this #Woodland that was planted with HRH The Princess Royal in #Grantham on our local Prince William of Gloucester Barracks. #Trees #Environment.”

In agreement is Grantham Labour Party, which issued a statement urging people to sign The Woodland Trust’s petition.

Their statement said: “We cannot keep paving over our countryside and destroying our environment when we have long vacant commercial property in our town centres that is ripe for rerolling into social housing.

“Grantham Labour does not support the plans in their current form. We propose the district council opposes any intentions for development outside of the current barracks perimeter – ensuring so far as possible only the current structures are redeveloped and avoiding the felling of The Woodland Trust plantation, therefore protecting a cherished part of Grantham’s landscape.”

Oliver Newham, external campaigns officer for The Woodland Trust and a resident of Grantham, thinks that the public’s views need to be listened to.

He added: “The responses we’ve seen so far show there is a strong public reaction to these plans. Please keep spreading the word to helps us build on the 2,000 responses already received.

“The town had the foresight in 2012 to plant these trees for the benefit of the local environment and to help the global fight against climate change. This wood is flourishing and already teeming with wildlife. To consider undoing this good work as the UK fights a climate and nature crisis is unfathomable.”

Callum McLelland, of Grantham, planted a tree at the barracks site and says that destroying the plantation would not be setting a good example for young people.

He added: “I planted a tree at the Grantham Diamond Jubilee Wood with my family when I was seven years old. I can remember looking forward to seeing the trees fully grown and feeling we’d done something worthwhile.

“I’m more educated about climate change now and even at 15, I know that nature needs to be protected.

“If 80 per cent of the woodland I helped to plant for Grantham’s people and wildlife are destroyed, I would be devastated. It’s a poor message for Government to be sending the young people of today.”

A four-week pre-application public consultation on the proposed development of the site closes at midnight tonight (Friday).

A spokesperson for Homes England said: “The proposed development seeks to deliver a sustainable and viable new community comprising up to 4,000 new homes and employment space centred around parks, woodlands and a community hub.

“The site was identified for redevelopment by South Kesteven District Council in their Local Plan.

“Whilst a number of the smaller trees within the extensive plantation area on the airfield will need to be removed to accommodate the proposals, other areas of woodland and biodiverse habitats will be created as part of the development. These new habitats will be more valuable to native species and will benefit the natural environment.

“We are keen to work with all stakeholders to make this a community with woodland and open space at its heart and are seeking their views as part of the ongoing consultation.”

Respond to the consultation at: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/protecting-trees-and-woods/campaign-with-us/grantham-barracks

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