More than 40 people braved water-logged conditions to gather at Wenny Road Meadow on Saturday 18th January to protest development of the site which is ear-marked for 800 houses. Dog walkers, photographers, children and local councillors were among those who visited the meadow to show their support for the “Save Wenny Road Meadow” campaign. The demonstration comes as the petition of local residents tops over 1,000 signatories.
Councillor Daniel Divine (independent) and Councillor Robert White (Green Party) attended the group photo to show their support for the campaign and reiterated their opposition to development of the green space. Cllr Divine said “the issue of whether or not to build on Wenny Road Meadow transcends politics. History, ecology and local amenity makes this green space unique and must be taken into account. There is nothing else which would act as a substitute for Wenny Road Meadow within our lifetime. It is irreplaceable.” Meanwhile Cllr White, who also supports the Save Wenny Road Meadow group, is driving a campaign for tree planting in Fenland which will help to mitigate climate change.
Chatteris based photographer, Rob Morris, who photographed the proceedings, took to social media after the photoshoot saying “I was able to get some pictures to highlight what a wonderful natural resource it is for the town. This is something we cannot afford to lose.”
President of Chatteris in Bloom, and former Chatteris Mayor, Susan Unwin took time out from a busy morning of weeding in the town’s flower beds to attend the photo shoot with three generations of her family. Mrs Unwin said “My sons used to play and make dens as children as did many of the children living close by. It’s a lovely habitat for wildlife and a nice place to walk your dog.” She urged fellow town’s folk to “become a tree hugger for the New Year and save the meadow. We are turning into a concrete town – notice how many trees and open spaces we have lost over the years.”
The gathering was organised by the Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign group to highlight the diverse use of the Meadow and the amenity that it provides to residents. Many of those who attended the protest were dog-walkers who spend hours in the meadow in all weathers and all seasons. Campaigner and mother of three, Kirsty Patterson, said: “the children are never bored in the meadow and what I love is that there is not a screen in sight. In the summer we had picnics and played on the rope swing, this morning it is all about splashing in puddles and climbing trees.” Ms Patterson went on to suggest “This would be the perfect place for a Chatteris-based Forest School so all our children could benefit from building confidence and learning social skills in the great outdoors.”
The process of reviewing the Fenland local plan is underway, and the initial period of consultation (“Issues and Options”) is running until November 21st. This is your opportunity to make your views known.
Full details are available here: you can read and comment on the Issues and Options plan, view all supporting documents and download the comments forms.
You can either reply using the (lengthy) online survey, or use the downloadable forms. Question 25 (open green space) is crucial, and you can use Question 27 (any other comments) if you don’t want to plough through every section. Also crucial is Form C: nomination of Local Green Space. We’ll be offering further suggestions of how to use this process to save the meadow in coming days.
There is also a consultation exhibition taking place at Chatteris Library on Monday 4th November, 10:00 – 16:00.
Our campaign was featured on ITV Anglia News on 15th November 2018. Thanks for Mandy, Laura and Kirsty for braving the camera to spread the word about our campaign, and to Lawrence for creating this video.
On Friday 12th October, Dr Sarah Spooner, Senior Lecturer in Landscape History at the University of East Anglia gave a talk in entitled “A Landscape History of Wenny Road Meadow”. The event was co-hosted by CPPF (Chatteris Past, Present and Future, the Civic Society) and the Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign.
Dr Spooner spoke with passion and authority to a full house. She used historic maps, recent surveys and photographs to compare Wenny Road Meadow to other 18th and 19th century manor parks. Bringing in references to the Enclosure Acts, the Napoleonic Wars and even Jane Austen novels, the talk was informative and entertaining. Perhaps most revealing was the LIDAR image (shown here), which clearly exposes the “ridge and furrow” earthworks, which date back to early medieval (15th century) agricultural practices. Dr Spooner explained that because the land has never been developed, it can reveal its own story to those able to interpret the landscape. Once built on, the meadow’s history will be lost. Summing up, Dr Spooner said ““Wenny Meadow is special. It’s the only thing like it in Chatteris. It’s an important 18th and 19th Century designed landscape; not only has it not really changed since the 1820s when it was first created, but like the ridge and furrow earthworks there just are not that many parks like that in the Fens. It’s also really significant because it preserves that medieval origin. Here you have got not just the 18th Century Georgian and Regency period, but medieval Chatteris as well.”
We’d like to express our deep gratitude to Dr Spooner for her time preparing and delivering the talk. We feel it has given us further ammunition to resist the proposed development, and will be sharing her findings with Fenland District Council shortly.