Box Wood: Stevenage woodland gets Article 4 protection in latest win for campaigners

Box Wood in Stevenage has been given further protection by East Herts Council. Picture: Friends of B

Box Wood in Stevenage has been given further protection by East Herts Council. Picture: Friends of Boxwood - Credit: Archant

A Stevenage woodland under threat from developers has been given further protection this week, in the latest boost for a growing army of campaigners.

Box Wood, on the eastern edge of Stevenage, has been given Article 4 protection by East Herts Council – enabling the local planning authority to withdraw permitted development rights on the land.

This means that a planning application will now have to be submitted where developers or private owners would not normally require one.

Article 4 directions are made when the character “of an area of acknowledged importance” is deemed to be threatened. The private leasehold sale of Box Wood has united a community over fears that it is being deliberately groomed for developers via misleading advertising.

East Herts Council said on its website on Wednesday: “We are concerned that this sale of Box Wood increases the possibility of harmful development, such as fences, new accesses and temporary use of the land within the green belt, as well as the Site of Archaeological Significance, the Wildlife Site and Ancient Monument – which are all designated within Box Wood.

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“This direction removes permitted development rights and creates the opportunity for us to take enforcement action if any breaches occur.”

Friends of Boxwood, a social media campaign group - which now has over 2,000 members – responded positively to the news on Wednesday.

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One campaigner said: “These are most common in conservation areas hence we have been lucky to have this issued on Box Wood so quickly. We thank councillor Ken Crofton and Walkern Parish Council for taking the initiative on this and East Herts Council for acting so very promptly and decisively.”

Another added: “Thank you to all concerned. When councils and community come together like this and react so quickly to get something done, it is really good to see.”

In accordance with planning law, East Herts Council will consult on the immediate direction for six weeks, and within six months it can decide whether to permanently confirm the protection.

Residents who wish to make comments should email or deliver a message in writing by August 21.

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