More than fifty children aged between 4 and 13 have written to Fenland District Council to ask them to save Wenny Road Meadow from development. Plans to build 93 houses on the former Manor Park are due to be considered by Fenland District Council soon.
Last month, Girl Guide Evelyn Patterson urged Chatteris Town Council to object to the proposals but felt as though she had been ignored. Determined to give children a voice, she created letter templates and spoke to Rainbows, Brownies, and Guides about the fate of the much-loved meadow. Meanwhile, Jacob Patterson, Henry Cole, and Ruan Potgeiter spoke to 2nd Chatteris Beavers and Cubs. They also urged their school friends to write to the council.
Fenland District Council has now been sent in excess of fifty letters from local children.
On Saturday 2nd October, children representing Glebelands Primary Academy, Kingsfield Primary School, Cromwell Community College, 1st Chatteris Guides, 6th Chatteris Brownies, 3rd Chatteris Brownies, 3rd Chatteris Rainbows, Chatteris District Rainbows, 2nd Chatteris Cubs, and 2nd Chatteris Beavers met to talk about their campaign.
The children were joined by Cllr Hilary Cox Condron, vice-chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s “Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion” committee and a board member of Natural Cambridgeshire.
Cllr Condron listened to each of the children talk about their views on the meadow, why they think it’s important, and what it means to them. She spent an hour in Wenny Meadow talking to parents and passing walkers about the plans while the children searched for conkers, climbed trees, and splashed about in heavy rain.
One passing dog walker, speaking with emotion, told Cllr Condron how during lockdown walking on the meadow “saved her”.
Please check the attribution details for individual photographs (by clicking on the photograph), as multiple photographers were present.
Cllr Hilary Cox Condron said:
“How wonderful to meet these young campaigners in Chatteris and hear about the letters, council speeches, leafleting and petitioning they have been doing to share how important Wenny Road Meadow is to them as they fight to save it from development. They give me hope, but I left with a heavy heart.”
“As an artist I work with children to explore, connect with and celebrate the nature on our doorsteps. We know how important being in nature is for the development of our children: for wellbeing, for health, for connections to the environment and to start to understand (to really feel) our place in the ecosystem. Being in nature impacts on education, crime reduction and social mobility. Children run and climb trees – they learn to take risks, build resilience, make up fantastical stories and look out for each other. They learn to take care of the nature they love… isn’t that what we are telling them all the time? Isn’t that what they HAVE to do?”
“We talk about the importance of loving where you live, taking care of neighbours, developing a strong sense of ‘place’. Then so easily dismiss local concerns and campaigns as NIMBYism, when taking care of our back yard is exactly what we should be doing. Or as Roy Hopkins wrote – don’t be a NIMBY, be a SWIMBY – and fight for Something Wonderful In My Backyard.”
Quotes from children’s letters:
- 8-year-old Amber wrote: “I do not want the meadow to be built on because it will make me unhappy if we lost this lovely open space.”
- 12-year-old Jessica wrote: “I love Wenny Meadow because I can run and climb, which is something I don’t do at the local park. It’s unsafe to have another estate on a already busy road near the college and new primary school. My peaceful place will be gone and I will stay home more and not get so much fresh air and exercise.”
- 7-year-old Dolcey wrote: “I want a space to walk that is safe”.
- 7-year-old Poppy wrote: “It is a green open space with lots of bugs and creatures. I went there on a school trip and I loved it.”
7-year-old Tyler wrote: “Where will the animals go?”
- 7-year-old Darius wrote: “I love Wenny Meadow because I found cool flowers and leaves. I love the trees and the birds.”
- 9-year-old Hubert wrote: “I do not want the meadow to be built on because there are not many green natural spaces left for nature to thrive.”
- 9-year-old Flynn: “We need to keep green space… the lungs of the earth will slowly disappear and our children will suffer the pollution, heat and floods.”
- 9-year-old Eleanor wrote: “I do not want the meadow to be built on because… the bats will have no insects to eat and not even have a home.”
- 10-year-old Chloe wrote: “I’ve had lovely walks there and climb my favourite tree. I also do my homework there as well.”
- 8-year-old Jacob wrote: “I love Wenny Meadow because it is the best place to discover nature.”
- 12-year-old Caitlin wrote: “We should preserve the meadow for future generations as it is our only space like it in Chatteris.”
- 11-year-old Evelyn wrote: “I love Wenny Meadow because I can use my bird app that identifies the birds that are singing.”
- 11-year-old Amelie wrote: “There are plenty of places to build on other than the meadows.”
- 12-year-old Oak wrote: “I love climbing trees and picnics and hanging out with friends.”
- 11-year-old Honey wrote: “I like smelling the flowers and I like seeing the butterflies.”
- 11-year-old Holly wrote: “During Covid we needed to exercise as we couldn\t go to the gym, so Wenny Road Meadow was a great place to exercise. I have made great memories there. Why would you take that away from someone?”
- 5-year-old Maicee wrote: “I have a great time making adventures there with my dad.”
- 6-year-old Beatrice wrote: “It is the best place to listen to birds and crickets.”
- 13-year-old Samantha wrote: “I like to walk our dogs in the natural environment, and late at night we go wildlife watching. I try to use these meadows for homework and reading as they are quiet.”
- 10-year-old Antonia wrote: “Wenny Road has a secondary school, a new primary school, a cricket club, and football playing fields all of which are opposite the planned development site. Increased traffic on this road could make access to the school site and sports facilities more dangerous.”