Become a 'tree hugger' and save historic Chatteris Wenny Meadow plea
More than 40 people braved water-logged conditions to gather at Wenny Road Meadow to protest the proposed development of the site, which is suggested for 80 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” (SWRM) campaign. The demonstration comes as the petition of local residents tops over 1,000 signatories.
Councillor Daniel Divine (independent) and Councillor Robert White and Mr Andy Crawford (Green Party) attended the group photo to show their support for the campaign and reiterated their opposition to development of the green space.
Coun 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.”
Mr Crawford added: “For the sake of the environment, we really ought to be preserving meadow land wherever we can. From a 'green' perspective, we would like to see much more open recreational spaces, meadows, and reforestation as an intrinsic part of any housing development project.
"As it stands, expanding market towns such as Chatteris are already short of natural areas which promote biodiversity and act as a natural habitat for many species. To destroy the areas we already have would be a retrograde step. It would be preferable to preserve meadows and other natural areas and use other land for development use.”
Meanwhile Coun 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 and said: “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.”
Curator of Chatteris Museum Ian Mason, who has helped the group identify and interpret historic records and maps of the site, was also in attendance.
He said: If I need a place of peace and tranquillity to unwind in this is the standout place for me because it is so readily accessible and near the centre of town."
President of Chatteris in Bloom, and former Chatteris Mayor, Susan Unwin took time out from a busy morning of weeding in the town’s flowerbeds 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 last Saturday (18) 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. One of the dog-walkers, Alison Pardon, explained her opposition to the building of 80 homes on Wenny Road Meadow and said: “It's not a case of being a NIMBY who's opposed to development. It's about protecting something special and unique that is a haven for our declining wildlife.
"As an isolated town, with poor facilities, the meadow is an oasis of tranquillity that cannot be replaced or replicated, and is somewhere where you can escape the hustle and bustle of life, reconnect with nature and hit the reset button.”
Alison was frustrated about the lack of support for the campaign and added: “Our town council are intent on building on every inch of green space, without concern or thought for anything or anyone. However, I'd like to thank the landowner(s) for their permission of public access to the meadow over the years.”
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 suggested: “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.”
More by this authorSarah Cliss