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Forest Holidays plan £11m holiday lodges at Fineshade Wood

Forest Holidays consultation event at Fineshade Wood.  From left, Niall Rudd, Shenagh Hackett, Paul Hackett and Patricia Rudd.
Photo: MSMP060214-016ow

Forest Holidays consultation event at Fineshade Wood. From left, Niall Rudd, Shenagh Hackett, Paul Hackett and Patricia Rudd. Photo: MSMP060214-016ow

A luxury £11m Forest Holidays site is being planned for Fineshade Wood.

The owners of Forest Holidays want to build 76 wooden lodges in the 500-hectare Fineshade Wood, once part of historic Rockingham Forest.

The firm, which already owns nine similar retreats around the UK, estimates that it will bring £2m each year to the surrounding rural economy.

It will also provide 60 full-time jobs and an estimated 40 other support jobs in the nearby area.

But some local people object to the development because they think it could spoil the tranquility of the wood, which is managed by the Forestry Commission.

Forest Holidays development director Richard Palmer held a consultation event today (Thursday) at Fineshade and was also due to attend a meeting of Duddington-with-Fineshade Parish Council to listen to the view of residents.

Mr Palmer said: “It’s going to be a place where people can relax. Our cabins are low-key.

“You are not going to see big concrete structures. It is in our interests to preserve the forest.

“We understand people may have concerns but we arranged today’s event was to answer any questions they may have.”

The holiday village will have a 250sq m reception for guests with a play area and a small shop selling local produce. It will not have a dome or a swimming pool.

Guests will use existing facilities including the Top Lodge cafe, shops and cycle hire but they will also be encouraged to use local pubs and shops.

Forestry Commission forest management director Andy Medhurst said: “Part of the government’s challenge to us is to find alternative sources of funding for the forest and that’s what we’re trying to do. This development will help pay for us to ensure the forest can be used by local people in the future.”

The lodges will cover an area of about 28-hectares and about a hectare of trees will be felled. They are mostly about 30-40 years old, but there are several 100-year-old ash trees that will be lost.

These will be replaced with several tree species including Norway Spruce, Oak, Wild Cherry and Aspen.

Duddington-with-Fineshade parish council clerk Richard Reed said that councillors would comment after they had heard views of local people at last night’s meeting, but confirmed that there had already been concern expressed by wildlife groups and residents.

The plans are expected to be submitted to East Northamptonshire Council shortly and local people will have the chance to comment on them.

Forest Holidays hope that, should the development get the go-ahead, they could start work this year.

 

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