Bid to save Wenny Meadow in Chatteris strengthened due to links to medieval past

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:00 25 October 2018

Wenny Road campaigners fight to save the beauty spot from having houses built on it.

Wenny Road campaigners fight to save the beauty spot from having houses built on it.

Archant

A campaign to save a Chatteris beauty spot from being built on has been strengthened by an historian who has hailed it an “important landscape of medieval origin”.

Ancient map of the area dating back from 1888 showing the Wenny Meadow area.Ancient map of the area dating back from 1888 showing the Wenny Meadow area.

The Save Wenny Road Meadow group will present Dr Sarah Spooner’s talk to Fenland District Council in a bid to save the green space from having 350 homes built on it.

Dr Spooner, who is a senior lecturer in landscape history at the University of East Anglia, revealed that the land is “significant because it preserves medieval origin” dating back to as early as the 15th century.

In her talk at the Chatteris Past, Present and Future Civic Society (CPPF), she said: “Wenny Meadow is special. It’s the only thing like it in Chatteris. It’s an important 18th and 19th Century designed landscape.

“Not only has it not really changed since the 1820s when it was first created, but like the ridge and furrow earthworks there just are not that many parks like that in the Fens.

Dr Sarah Spooner gave the talk entitled 'A Landscape History of Wenny Road Meadow'.Dr Sarah Spooner gave the talk entitled 'A Landscape History of Wenny Road Meadow'.

“It’s also really significant because it preserves that medieval origin. Here you have got not just the 18th Century Georgian and Regency period, but medieval Chatteris as well.”

The talk was followed by a lively discussion about the importance of the local beauty spot, and many people added their names to a petition to oppose development of the site.

Dr Spooner used historic maps, recent surveys and photographs to compare Wenny Road Meadow to other 18th and 19th century manor parks.

While the proposed development intends to retain a portion of the meadow as managed green space, there would also be an access road and formal paths surrounded by the houses.

The LIDAR image exposes the “ridge and furrow” earthworks, which date back to early medieval (15th century) agricultural practices in Wenny Meadow.The LIDAR image exposes the “ridge and furrow” earthworks, which date back to early medieval (15th century) agricultural practices in Wenny Meadow.

Campaigners believe it would “utterly destroy the essence of the unique and beautiful space”.

In 2010, plans were refused for 600 homes on the site, however, last year developers Canon Kirk gained outline plans for the development of 350 houses in the cluster of fields, and were set to apply for full planning permission.

In a screening opinion for the 350 homes, dated March 2016, it notes that the views from the views from the “relatively open area from the A142 would change significantly”.

“The additional houses on the town of Chatteris could be significant in terms of pressure on the existing infrastructure,” it adds.

Lawrence Weetman, speaking on behalf of CPPF, said: “Dr Spooner’s talk, setting Wenny Meadow in its proper historical context, made an excellent case for retaining this important surviving example of a landscape park right on our own doorsteps.

“It is evident that Wenny Meadow is far more than ‘just a field’, but a space that two hundred years ago was designed to be a hugely enjoyable spot for people to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.

“The fact that this park has changed very little since it was designed two centuries ago is remarkable. The loss of this meadow would be a huge blow to our historic town.”

For further details visit the campaign website at www.savewennyroadmeadow.org.

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