DISGRUNTLED residents of Annesley are campaigning to protect an area of woodland from being used for housing.
The Annesley Community Committed to Ensuring Sustainable Settlements (ACCESS) group has handed a petition of more than 1,000 signatures to Ashfield district councillors, asking them to grant a permanent tree preservation order at an area known as Little Oak Plantation.
The campaigners want to halt a planning application from developers Taylor Wimpey to build almost 100 new homes on land off Forest Road. Concerns have been voiced that the development could destroy ancient woodland and wildlife at the site.
A temporary tree preservation order protecting the site was issued in September. Now councillors must decide whether it should remain or be removed after six months.
Bob Collier, vice-chairman of ACCESS, told Ashfield District Council’s full meeting that the site was home to a number of protected species, including native English bluebells and birds such as woodlark and nightjar.
He said: “We believe Little Oak Plantation is ancient woodland and part of the old Sherwood Forest. We have information and maps confirming that Little Oak Plantation was called Oak Wood in 1817.
“There are signs of coppiced tree work and old oak stumps within the wood and ground flora surveys confirm this plantation has indications of ancient woodland.”
Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, who is the council’s deputy leader, said: “We are taking this very seriously and we already have planning officers investigating the issues.”
A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said the scheme would include a proposal to remove a “small number of trees from the land adjacent to our development” for “necessary” off-site drainage works.
Added the spokesman: “Should this application be approved by Ashfield Council, we would be sure to carry out this work with the utmost sensitivity, being careful to remove as few trees as possible.
“Our proposals also show a replanting programme to offset the loss of any trees which have to be removed from the site.
“The area known as Little Oak Plantation to the south of our development was purchased from the Forestry Commission and was previously planted for commercial woodland to be re-harvested for sustainable timber to be cut down and used commercially.”