New houses kill ancient woodland

There’s a rumour in the Red Lion that a developer wants to buy up Smith’s Field. It is, of course, in a prime position, just ten minutes from the high street. I can’t imagine Mary, our vicar, will be pleased, since the back of her house overlooks it. Although I haven’t heard her views on planning issues. For all I know, she might put housing need ahead of rampant development.

It’s true that, in its current state, Smith’s Field is not particularly lovely. Impromptu football games year-round have scuffed up what grass there was. The swings are old and rusty. The roundabout, which rattles alarmingly, should have been condemned years ago. But it is the only area in the middle of the village where children can let off steam.

Those of us with small boys know how crucial this is. If you don’t let a five-year-old run around outside brandishing a stick and screaming at the top of his lungs, he will transfer his need for world domination to the indoor environment. This means mayhem, chaos, damage and chipped paint, and hours spent Cif-ing black marks off the skirting board.

More than this, there is a principle at stake. According to the Woodland Trust, ancient woodlands in the UK are under threat.

If we let them build over Smith’s Field, we might be opening the floodgates. We might end up losing Four-Mile Wood with its centuries-old trees, its abundance of wildlife and its astonishing sea of bluebells.

I believe Smith’s Field is valuable to the community. I believe we should oppose plans for development. I will be raising this as Any Other Business at the March meeting of the Fitton Preservation Society next week.

I should add, however, that gossip at the Red Lion is rarely reliable. I am often shocked at the rumours that flow out of the public bar like promises from a politician.

It’s quite possible that there are no plans for development at all.

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