A running club has joined the fight against the construction of 70 log cabins in Delamere Forest, arguing the proposed development of the Kingswood area of the forest would have a ‘devastating impact’.
With the public inquiry into the Forestry Commission and Forest Holidays’ application fast approaching, Delamere Spartans have donated money towards the Communities Against Delamere’s Destruction (CADD) campaign to help them meet the costs of legal representation.
The controversial plans for the holiday lodges, as well as a new visitors’ centre, 270 car park spaces and a new access road, were granted permission in October 2013, after Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee concluded there were ‘very special circumstances’ to justify the scheme being in the green belt.
However, the decision was automatically referred to the National Planning Casework Unit as a departure from national policy and secretary of state Eric Pickles decided to ‘call in’ the application for review before making the final decision.
Delamere Spartans, which boasts a 60-strong membership, meet twice a week to run in the forest, all year round.
Nick Wishart, one of the run leaders, told The Chronicle the consequences for the club will be ‘huge’.
“As a running group and also as a collection of local residents regularly enjoying the forest with our families, we are gravely concerned about the devastating impact of this development proposal, hence the group donation” he said.
“We spend a considerable amount of time enjoying the forest and its tranquil, traffic free surroundings, as do many others.
“We need to cherish and preserve our countryside and we each have a responsibility to future generations to do so.”
Nick explained that the development would ‘irrevocably change’ the club, which runs solely off-road, and undoubtedly mean a loss of amenity, as he argues that there aren’t any other locations nearby where traffic-free, off-road running is possible.
“Developing a significant percentage of a forest the size of Delamere would impact our ability to enjoy uninterrupted access” he said. “Plus the addition of an access road has safety issues.”
Nick added that the Delamere Spartans club motto is Never Surrender, which he described as an ‘entirely appropriate one with relation to this particular battle’.
Spokesman for CADD Nigel Gilding said: “This fantastic gesture from the Delamere Spartans is testament to how strongly users of the forest feel about the proposals due to come under scrutiny at the public inquiry in a few days time.
“Our paperwork has now been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and I'm delighted to confirm that the donations received from the Spartans and all the other contributors has resulted in us being able to employ legal counsel for the full four days of the inquiry.”
The inquiry will be held at Winsford’s Council Chamber in Wyvern House from Tuesday, June 17, at 10am.