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The Speckled Wood section of the proposed Ore Greenway route, running from Victoria Avenue, top right, to Frederick Road, bottom left (image: Ore CLT).

The Speckled Wood section of the proposed Ore Greenway route, running from Victoria Avenue, top right, to Frederick Road, lower left (image: Crown Copyright).

Views sought on Greenway route through Ore

Ore Community Land Trust has launched a consultation on a section of the proposed route of the Hastings Greenway through Ore. Drop-in sessions will be held on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September. The Friends of Speckled Wood have expressed reservations about the route. Nick Terdre reports.

Ore Community Land Trust (Ore CLT) has launched a consultation to collect feedback on its plans, in conjunction with Hastings Greenway Group (HGG), to build a section of the Hastings Greenway network through Speckled Wood in Ore. The section, which will run through the wood from the Frederick Road entrance to Victoria Avenue via Church Street, forms part of the larger Ore Valley route network which will start from Ore railway station and run up the valley to the Ridge and Hastings Academy.

The proposed Hastings Greenway, running from St Leonards through Hastings to Ore, aims to form a safe and largely traffic-free network of leisure, amenity and utility walking and cycling routes, which will also be accessible for people with disabilities.

Photo: Ore CLT.

View of Speckled Wood (photo: Ore CLT).

Detailed design for the Speckled Wood section of the route, which was funded by Big Local NE Hastings, has been completed. Now comes the consultation, for which local residents are asked to fill in a questionnaire. Drop-in sessions to provide more detailed information have also been arranged (see details below). The deadline is 30 September but responses arriving before the questionnaires are analysed will also be included, Ore CLT says.

One of the benefits of the Speckled Wood section is that it will open up the wood to people with mobility issues, Becky Polain, secretary of Ore CLT, told HOT; people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters or who have balance problems are at present unable to gain access.

Reservations about the Speckled Wood section have been expressed by Martin Newbold, chairman of Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust and vice managing director of Hastings Badger Protection society. “I believe this will go through a huge badger sett in the area, which must not happen as they are protected species and it would therefore need a licence from Natural England,” he told HOT. “A route like this would be subject to planning application which has not transpired. The planning authority has no knowledge of an application for this.

“It is quite clear this work will seriously impact the wildlife in the area and it is clear that Ore Community, through its lack of action in the previous consultation to protect this space, has no real motive to protect this open space. Most of the 7,000 consulted members of Ore and Hastings stated they wanted it ‘left as it was’.

“I am also aware from Cllr Peter Chowney that Ore Community Land does not own any land in Speckled Wood and it would therefore be unlawful to place a permanent concrete structure or tarmac on this land without an agreement being signed with the owners of the land. Originally the Greenway project was supposed to go right down Church Street. I am unsure why they have changed this route.”

According to Mrs Polain there has been no change of route: “The section through Speckled Wood has always been as proposed, from ESCC original strategy to the 10-year DMP [Development Management Plan] adopted by Hastings Borough Council.”

As regards land ownership, Tony Polain, Ore CLT chairman, told HOT: “Our next objective is to acquire all of the land in the wood. HBC… have indicated their willingness to transfer all of their holdings in the wood over to us. They have also signalled their intent to support us in acquiring further plots of land as well.”

Digging a hole in Speckled Wood - on whose orders and why? (Photo: Friends of Speckled Wood.)

Digging a hole in Speckled Wood – what for and for whom? (Photo: Friends of Speckled Wood.)

Concerns about the effect of development on the wildlife living in the wood have also been voiced by Don Wise, president of Hastings Badger Protection Society, who has taken up the issue of seven ‘pilot’ holes recently dug in the wood by contractors using a JCB. So far he has been unable to get official clarification as to who commissioned this work and for what purpose.

‘Informal’ section

Ore CLT also hopes to build an ‘informal’ section of the Greenway from Ore Station to Broomgrove Road in 2017. “This will be on the land that Jess Steele’s Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust will be taking over,” Mrs Polain told HOT. “HoHCLT will be implementing this with the help of Hastings Greenway Group and Ore Community Land Trust. Volunteers from the local community will be asked to help and contribute.

“All three groups (HoHCLT, OCLT & HGG) are professional and well respected organisations, and of course they would seek planning permission for any development which would require it and carry out any works in line with regulations. This route is in line with the Hastings Walking and Cycling Strategy devised by East Sussex County Council, and adopted by Hastings Borough Council and is formally part of the Development Management Plan.”

Construction of the Greenway has to be planned in sections which are determined by the borders of land-ownership and the funding raised by local NGOs for the project, Mrs Polain said. With regard to the Frederick Road to Broomgrove Road/Ore Station leg, part of the route will pass through the Millenium site, which was recently purchased by Orbit – the housing association which is also a partner in the Ore Valley Greenway design project, she said.

 

Drop-in sessions Friday 16 September at the Bridge Community Centre in Priory Road, from 6pm to 8:30pm; and Saturday 17th at the Salvation Army Hall in Old London Road, from 10am to 12:30pm, and Broomgrove Community Centre in Chiltern Drive from 2pm to 4:30pm.

The Ore Valley Greenway route, from Hastings Academy, upper right, to Ore station, lower left (map: Ore CLT).

The Ore Valley Greenway network shown in red and blue, from Hastings Academy, upper right, to Ore station, lower left. The red sections are road-based and the blue sections mostly off-road (map: Ore CLT).

Posted 12:39 Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 In: Home Ground

14 Comments

  1. Nick Terdre

    Following complaints about the nature of some of the allegations being made, comments on this article are now suspended. Nick Terdre

    Comment by Nick Terdre — Saturday, Sep 17, 2016 @ 11:50

  2. Tony Polain

    Thank you to all those who attended tonight’s consultation session and for all your positive feedback.
    Good to see so many genuine people wanting to improve their local community.

    Comment by Tony Polain — Friday, Sep 16, 2016 @ 23:09

  3. Becky Polain

    If you have concerns or questions about this project, please come to the consultation. After all, that is what it is for!
    You had not asked about our charitable status, just made opinionated statements. However, I did say earlier (perhaps you did not read that bit), that we are applying for and will shortly have CIO status. We do not purport to be a charity, but a membership organisation. Please see our website for details and of our committee members. If you wish to have details of our accounts, which are also made public every year at our AGM, it would be prudent to make a formal request in writing to Ore CLT for attention of our Treasurer.
    The question about responses is completely irrelevant to this matter, and a pointless inquiry.

    Comment by Becky Polain — Friday, Sep 16, 2016 @ 11:51

  4. Martin Newbold

    I have to wonder why you are evading questions. Is this not what your consultation is expected to obtain? Or is it just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ affair?

    I think I was clear and concise, you were asked to provide details of your organizations current charitable status. This was not forthcoming in your response.

    I do not believe it is me trying to mislead people here. I have to wonder why you will not provide this information […].

    You state this information has not been requested regarding your accounts but I am aware of two people who have said they have asked for this information.

    I am quite happy to provide our communication letters to Tim Cookson to Nick and reference to the information in the Local Government Ombusman case were this information was held at the time. You should probably talk to Aubrey who saw all of this information at the time when it was shown to him at his home in a large folder. The fact that you are not aware of this does not mean it didn’t happen.

    I additionally note you provided no detail of the number of responses your organization sent to the Planning Inspector, Yet you state you have striven to protect this woodland. I would imagine this would be similar the Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust ? I cannot undertsand why you do not know this figure.

    Comment by Martin Newbold — Friday, Sep 16, 2016 @ 11:15

  5. Becky Polain

    Mr. Newbold, if you SERIOUSLY believe that OreCLT or any of the organisations mentioned have even the slightest desire to put housing in the wood, you are very much mistaken. I cannot even start to imagine why you would think or insinuate that and it surely is preposterous for that idea to be given even the merest fleeting thought. It is a fact that we will not be putting any housing in the wood at all. You also need to grasp the fact that the Speckled Wood Greenway is part of the much larger Walking and Cycling network, as approved by ESCC and HBC, which is to be implemented as per the DMP.
    We have never misled the public, but, as you raise the subject now (you have never contacted us about this before), we are shortly to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
    We have been very clear on the purpose of this route, which will also make part of the wood accessible to those who have previously been unable to access the wood. Why do you find this so contentious?
    You mention ‘option A’ regarding pre-determination on the DMP of the area of woodland saved. I can categorically state that you are now misleading people, as Ore CLT AND HBC BOTH wanted to save as much of the wood as possible and opted for the 3rd option (Option C) which was the best option put out to choose from. Luckily, the Inspector decided to go for Option C, with the added bonus of adding 2 of the 3 areas marked for development to the overall protected space. His decision was certainly aided by the documentation and work put in by members of Ore CLT, and the Inspector even referred to us, extremely favourably, in his report.
    I have to say that much of your third paragraph is unclear and news to everyone concerned, and I am afraid you played no part in the decision to remove the Victoria Avenue (if that is the area you are referring to), and maybe you will need to refer to the Inspector’s report again.
    The rest of your comment is very confused and I am rather interested to hear that several people have requested our ‘company accounts’ but have not had any response. This could be because we have NEVER received any requests for our accounts, but anyone who wishes to do so is more than welcome. We are a fully constituted organisation with a full committee. Everything is documented and copies can be made available on request. Incidentally, you have not published details of your committee…
    As for your last statement, we do not find it harsh, just perplexing and I do feel somewhat bemused! No-one likes people claiming work they have not done, so it is fortunate that we have only claimed for work we have done.

    Comment by Becky Polain — Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 @ 16:36

  6. donald Wise

    I have read the above carefully and found the many flaws in the statements made by Ore Community Trust.It is very clear that No real qualified Ecologist has been employed for the project, Speckled Wood is teaming with wildlife. Slowworms have a totally different lifestyle to Common Lizards, The Newts will have migrated from their breeding grounds in the stream line. the now proposed blue route interferes with more than one recognised badger sett. To carry out a correct Ecological Survey takes several month and equipment. This has not happened *the only Competent Person who has this information is the Chairman of Friends of Speckled Wood. The Land Fenced off on the south side of Frederic Road is contaminated with arsenic and has several badger setts and a population of Common Lizards, any footpath would have to go over the badgers setts area and severely interfere with the Common Lizard Habitat again I believe nobody has given correct thought to a dangerous situation. There has been more than 100 Badgers living in this area for many years alongside many other populations of protected wildlife

    The original Route along Church Street is a much safer Option.

    Comment by donald Wise — Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 @ 13:50

  7. Martin Newbold

    Preposterous I think not. Insinuations are not being provided here just facts. It would be helpful if you did same.

    It seems you have failed to pick up on the points that there is nowhere for this route to go on to after Speckled Wood and the fact that you are possibly misleading the public as an organization with no known charitable status which we are aware of and no land ownership where you want to put this pathway. Yet you state your organization is reputable. You have not indicated why you want to build a path to nowhere we already have a road now with this name in Ore.

    When we last met your organization you was happy to go with option A and tow along with Council’s line to just leave a thin strip of Speckled Wood, as can be seen from the image ‘A’ here in our historical consultation centre: http://www.friendsofspeckledwoodmanagementtrust.org.uk/consultation/index%202012%20DMP%28local%20Plan%29.php (option A). Your minutes of your meeting show you would render no assistance to use your Ore trust web space for a consultation to change this position and save the woodland now known as Speckled Wood, parts of the woodland were said to be saved by the council after around 7000 Reponses which Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust collected. The development at the top of the woodland Speckled Wood was stopped by the research provided by Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust and Hastings Historical Society Members and the Jersey JRC, eventually proving that if the Council signed agreements with this developer then they would be needed to be investigated by the police. The Council Development team sensibly decided not to allow planning here only after this had occurred and this was nothing to do with your organization.

    Do you really think the Badger Society does not know where the setts are here in Speckled Wood and the Millennium Ground? Your route traverses through many which you seem to want to destroy and not discuss, only stating an ecology report will be provided. If the construction people on this Mini digger where your contracted people then you would have already been told where the badger setts were in close proximity to were a hole was dug 1m3 of which there were seven in total. The operation of this took place in the bird nesting season. You have not indicated if contractors using mini diggers were your contractors

    You must be aware of the regulation involving your company income and been advised of the income restrictions and tax which is not known if that it is being paid. Yet your organization has historically obtained charitable donations and is seeking large funding here http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/proposals-for-new-greenway-in-ore-1-7573121. There have been several requests by people to obtain your company accounts but they have not been forthcoming. Can you explain how many representations your organization alone made to the Planning Inspector? If either you had attended the Planning Inspectors Examination you would have seen that We delivered many of these 7000 Reponses to Mr. Richard Hollux on the first day and handed them over in person. We did not see your organization do same.

    It is clear from your statement that the ecologist, whoever he might be, has not done his job properly because there is no accounting for the Amphibians and small mammals which are all legally protected. You have not given his name.

    You have provided no evidence to-date to show your intentions are reasonable. I am sorry if you find this harsh but I do not like organizations claiming work they have not done.

    Comment by Martin Newbold — Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 @ 12:10

  8. Becky Polain

    I can assure you, as per my stating the professionalism of the groups involved, that full ecological surveys will be carried out, and indeed we have already had a survey done by an ecologist who is particularly knowledgeable about badgers and the rules and regulations involved. Professional advice has always been sought and followed and I’m not sure why anyone would think otherwise. Please come along to the consultation for more in depth information or email us. I am a more than a little disappointed by the insinuations and negativity for what are wonderful proposals. In particular the comments about putting housing in the wood! This is at best preposterous, considering the aims of our organisation to protect the woodland. In any case, thankfully the woodland is protected from such development as per the Inspector’s recommendations in the DMP.

    Comment by Becky Polain — Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 @ 09:54

  9. barney

    It would be sensible if this group sought professional advice before they embarked on any scheme. At this stage it is all presumption without knowing whether their proposals are feasible/acceptable. And in order to allay fears about wildlife protection (and there are grave concerns) surely this group ought to be commissioning an indepth ecology survey. And possibly an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) survey. Also taking account of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. When Sustrans laid this type of surface to the cycle route along the beach track at Bulverhythe they had to produce professional surveys on the ecology of the cliffs. This included flora and fauna.

    Comment by barney — Thursday, Sep 15, 2016 @ 08:32

  10. Martin Newbold

    The last Japanese knotweed survey published was in 2012 here http://www.friendsofspeckledwoodmanagementtrust.org.uk/documents/management%20plan%202012/2012-10-04%20-%20Japanese%20knot%20Survey%20Oct%202012%20finished.pdf Nothing has been achieved by this organization previously to thwart its hold on the site.

    If this pathway is created then a pathway without wheel washing active at each end and operational, at all times, maintained even after its completion date with leave this organization, who places permanent structure of footpath which will be used by vehicles will be open for prosecution for illegally speading this material.

    Martin Newbold, Vice Managing Director , Senior Field Analyst Hastings Badger Protection Society ( Charity and Limited by Liability)and Chairman Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust.

    Comment by Martin Newbold — Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 @ 21:28

  11. barney

    Cellweb may be a rigid web but it still requires substantial excavation works in order to bed it into the ground.And anecdotal evidence suggests that there may be Japanese Knotweed present on this site which if disturbed and not disposed of according to regulations, can spread quickly to other sites.
    One has to hope that adequate surveys both ecological and technical would be carried out by professionals before any works are approved.

    Comment by barney — Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 @ 19:26

  12. Martin Newbold

    Thank you for contacting us about this item Nick. We have given you the points that we have concerns about. There is real concern where this route will go as it appears to be isolated to Speckled Wood, Hastings. The Charity who is the only registered Charity who looks after Speckled Wood has been fighting to save Speckled Wood and bring the Public’s attention to this delicate natural area used by the children of Ore. It is known much of the route proposed by this organization is inaccessible. The first blow was the loss of routes emergence at the University due to planning blocking the access. It is also known from the Head of the Ore Village School that the parcel of Land to the right of the Ore Village Primary School is no longer available for this use or any use by the school. The Ore Village School wanted to create scenic woodland here and this was refused. The land which this route passes above Deepdeene Gardens in the Millenium Ground is historically known to be contaminated and has a very large Metal Fence around it, keeping the public out for this very reason. There is a report held by the Council stating that this ground is not suitable or safe for housing. It is questionable where this proposed route will link up. It does not appear that any thought has been really given to this and the Charity believes this is just another move by organizations to introduce Planning and Housing to the Speckled Wood Estate. It is astounding that the 7 cubic metre holes dug in Speckled Wood, Hastings met no enforcement. The Chair of this Organization Mr. Ian Sier was heard to say at an Ore Together Public meeting that they had no responsibility for digging these holes.

    The Hasting Badger Protection Society is current working with the Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust to protect the Church Street parts of Speckled Wood .A large Petition and complaint haven made a parliament level in regard to Natural England’s activities which brought this area under threat. The Council has still not provided a document which underpins their Development Management Plan this matter is currently being heard in court action.

    You can sign this Petition and read more about this complaint here: https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-remove-natural-england-s-ability-to-grant-licenses-to-interfere-with-protected-species
    The Hastings Badger Society is now well funded and will take matters very serious and warns of potential court action anyone disturbing badger sets in this site.

    Martin Newbold, Vice Managing Director , Senior Field Analyst and Chairman Friends of Speckled Wood Management Trust.

    Comment by Martin Newbold — Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 @ 18:53

  13. Nick Terdre

    Apologies to Becky and Tony Polain – I’ve corrected the spelling of their name.

    Comment by Nick Terdre — Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 @ 15:27

  14. Becky Polain

    Thank you for publishing details of our consultation. However, please may you spell my and Tony’s surname correctly?

    I note that the Friend of Speckled Wood and Don Wise have concerns about the proposed path. If they would like to know more, they are more than welcome to contact us directly so we can answer any questions and hopefully allay their fears regarding disruption to wildlife. They have not contacted us at all which is surprising, considering their concern.

    To answer the issue about planning permission, we have not applied for planning permission as we are not yet carrying out any work which would require it. Please see my statement: “All three groups (HoHCLT, OCLT & HGG) are professional and well respected organisations, and of course they would seek planning permission for any development which would require it and carry out any works in line with regulations.”

    If they were to inquire further about the nature of the potential surface (they quote ‘permanent concrete structure or tarmac’), and possible interference of badger setts, we would have told them that we intend to use Cellweb.

    Please can anyone who has any questions about the proposed route either contact us at ore.clt@hotmail.com, or attend one of our consultation sessions.

    Comment by Becky Polain — Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 @ 15:04

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