Major victory for campaigners as tree preservation order made for Stevenage woodland

PUBLISHED: 16:12 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:51 16 July 2020

Posters have been erected on tree trunks to ward off developers. Picture: Friends of Boxwood

Posters have been erected on tree trunks to ward off developers. Picture: Friends of Boxwood

Archant

The future of Box Wood in Stevenage has been handed a huge boost after a crucial tree preservation order was made at the site – effectively making it illegal to remove trees without prior permission.

Box Wood is famed for its stunning bluebell meadows. Picture: BJPF PhotographyBox Wood is famed for its stunning bluebell meadows. Picture: BJPF Photography

The all-important order – made on July 9 by East Herts Council – now means that no future leaseholder can “cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy any tree within Box Wood,” without the local planning authority’s written consent.

The order constitutes a major victory for local campaigners who have been applying pressure on the council and online property sites to protect the ancient woodland from unwanted development.

Ken Crofton, county and district councillor Hertford Rural Division and Walkern Ward, was a key figure in lobbying to East Herts District.

Community Facebook group – Friends of Boxwood – now has over 1,200 members, and some of its members have been erecting posters to ‘stop the breakup of Boxwood’ in a bid to ward off potential developers.

Group member Mike Allingham said the tree preservation order is an “important step forward,” and welcomes the “additional protection” for Box Wood.

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“Many thanks to our elected local representatives and East Herts Council for making this happen,” Mike added.

READ MORE: Fears for Stevenage woodland as plots go up for sale

It is understood the tree preservation order made by EHC is only valid for six months. This means that new leaseholders will have six months in which to lodge their objections – at which point a permanent preservation may be made.

The private sale of Box Wood first came to light three weeks ago, as eight 1.5 acre plots of land appeared on property websites Zoopla and Rightmove, selling at £25,000 a piece.

Its sale initially caused alarm among residents who believe the agent Exclusive Property Sales is guilty of publishing misleading adverts and 3D graphics, suggesting the land is being courted for future developers at auction.

The southern section of Box Wood is designated as an ‘Ancient Monument’ by English Heritage due to the earthwork remains of a medieval settlement – however this was omitted from the adverts.

In recent days it has emerged that the entire freehold of the 60 acre site is now appearing for sale on Rightmove, with the land allegedly set to go to auction on July 29.

Friends of Boxwood sources suggest the freehold is not for sale, and this is false information which has also been reported to Rightmove.

East Herts Council have been approached for comment.


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