Friends of Fineshade Woods to fight latest glamping plans for Top Lodge meadow
A group of volunteers are set to fight the latest proposals to develop a meadow next to Fineshade Woods into a glamping and camping site.
Donna Barney, a director of Countrywide Park Homes, has applied for change of use for 15 glamping pods, camping pitches, parking area and a warden’s lodge.
It is the fifth attempt to develop the meadow, which lies in front of the 18th-century Grade II-listed Top Lodge farmhouse, owned by the Forestry Commission.
In September 2014 proposals for change of use to put up 30 glamping pods were withdrawn, as was an application for a campsite for tents eight months later.
Most recently, plans for a timber lodge holiday park were also shelved in December 2018 after council planning officers recommended refusal.
Friends of Fineshade believe the site’s access road is already above peak capacity and said the road’s junction with the A43 is dangerous and unfit for more traffic.
“This is the fifth of these planning applications and we were very sorry to see it again,” said group spokesman Tricia Galpin.
“We thought last time the planning officer did a brilliant job in saying this is not the right site for this sort of development.
“There were over 100 objections then and a lot of those were down to the fact the road up to Fineshade is incredibly congested.
“In the last two years, the numbers of people using the road has gone up incredibly, and during the pandemic more and more have needed to get out into the countryside and come up here.
“It took me half-an-hour to drive a quarter-of-a-mile down the road last week.”
Another sticking point for the previous plan was an ecological one.
“The field where they want to develop has a really important reptile population, it is limestone grassland and should be a nature reserve,” Tricia explained.
“Putting tents next to adders is neither good for the adders or good for the people in the tents.”
The latest proposals promise a ‘suitable reptile habitat’ along with vegetation planting around the accommodation’s perimeter.
Recognising their previous proposal was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disproportionate', the applicants say the latest plans are ‘very small scale and discreet’, and believe it would boost tourism in the district and the local economy.
Yet the Friends feel it remains out of keeping with the surroundings and fear approval may open the door to further development.
“We know this is just the foot in the door,” Tricia added.
“The meadow is an access to the woods and to have glamping pods and tents would change the whole aspect. The farmhouse has looked over grazing meadow since the 18th century.”
To see the plans in full, visit publicaccess.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/online-applications and search for NE/21/00388/FUL