Posted by: jonbarry145 | July 6, 2012

Freemans Wood and Coronation Field update

Freeman’s Wood update 5th July 2012

For those people at the meeting at the community centre on Sunday, we said that we would update people about what happened at the cabinet meeting concerning the situation of Freemans Wood and Coronation Field in the local plan. Previously, planners were intending to lump Freemans Wood and Coronation Field together in a way that would allow SATNAM (the potential developers) to propose a project that would potentially mean that they could build houses on Coronation Field and then create a new playing field on the Freemans Wood land.

From the cabinet meeting it seems that things have changed now in that this is not now the case and that Coronation Field and the adjoining Council woodland has been taken out of the potential development area. It is still not totally crystal clear but we will have time to be completely sure about it before the Full Council meeting on July 18th. We need to read the document very thoroughly and maybe add a sentence to finally seal the situation up. The good news is that we seemed to have political agreement from Labour cabinet members (and, we suspect, from other political parties) on the need to protect Coronation Field So, as it stands, there doesn’t seem to be a need for any lobbying at the moment.

Once the planning situation has been dealt with, then the Friends of Freemans Wood and Coronation Field group will need to consider what it wants to do next. One possibility is to start work on getting Freemans Wood into public and/or community ownership. We have the Marsh Community Centre booked for Sunday 15th July at 6pm for the next meeting. Please come if you want to be involved and to take back control of your community!

Cllr Tracey Kennedy
Cllr Jon Barry
Cllr Melanie Forrest



  1. Has the ownership of the land been fully checked out ? “Freeman’s Wood” suggests it was originally public (not City) land. That the linoland dumpees gave it to the residents after they fiilled in the toxic refuse makes sense too. Don’t trust the Council, do it ourselves.. That what was, de facto, public land for 50 years has suddenlybecome a fenced off enclosure is weird. Did anyone take on the responsibilities of ownership in the interim ? If not, as I understand it, the property falls to those (the public) who did make continuous use of it.

    Just where have our planners and their acolites been during all this ? Other than concealing developments from our elected representatives ? Hard to tell, going to the Planning website produces so many untitled documents that the help of GCHQ would be needed to decipher an answer. Ask councillor ? Everyone on the planning cttee I have asked says the same thing “it all seems to have been fixed before it comes to the meeting” Iam sure there is no reason for my cynicism but it would be nice to have my doubts removed.

    • We haven’t been able to make much positive progress on land ownership. So far, we think that the land has been legitimately (from a legal poinjt of view anyway) sold on by the various people owning the land. However, we are continuing to look at this.

      The one bit that does look a bit dodgy is the boundary of the land that the Property Trust claim to own. At the 1971 sale, the map shows that the boundary being about where the fence currently is (ie not as far as the path to the river). However, SATNAM/Property Trust claim that they own the land right to the path. We are trying to get the deeds for when the Property Trust bought the land about ten years ago.

  2. This is a quick update from Jon Barry to let people know what is going on.

    Local Plan

    At last week’s Full Council meeting we finally managed to add a few words to the local plan that means that Coronation Field and the land next to it is protected in the Council’s planning policy terms. This is not directly related to Freeman’s Wood but does have an indirect effect. What it would mean is that SATNAM (developers) won’t be able to produce a development that builds on Coronation Field and creates a ‘new’ Coronation Field in the Freeman’s Wood land. Not being able to do this will make any development plans they have less viable.

    The Council has now put its local plan out to public consultation. As a group we will need to decide whether we want to try to further strengthen the protection of Freeman’s Wood (currently it says something like that ‘enabling development would be allowed if it allows increased recreation space for the public in the non-developed bit’. It also says that the recreation space should be the majority of the land. We could press for the Council to say that all of Freeman’s Wood should be protected for recreation space. The danger with this approach is that SATNAM will inevitably appeal against this. Given that the Government is determined to weaken planning protection at the moment, it seems likely that SATNAM would win such an appeal and then we might be left with a worse situation than the current policy. Anyway, this needs some careful thought.

    Town Green and Footpaths

    The Town Green application is now just about complete. We have joined the Open Spaces Society because they have a wealth of legal expertise. We are waiting for our joining to be processed and then I have a couple of questions to ask them about our Town Green application. I know this is taking a long time but it is worth getting it right as we have only one chance on this – and this is the one thing that could potentially save the whole of Freeman’s Wood. Legally, we have two years from November 2011 to put in our application.

    The three footpath applications are also near to completion. The same legal issue affects these (the notices put up about eight years ago) and so we will be seeking the same advice about these footpath applications.

    Activity on Freeman’s Wood

    We know that a lot of scrub on Freeman’s Wood has been cleared. We don’t know why – seems a senseless thing to do given all of the creatures that live there. Please keep a look-out for any damage to trees. If this happens we will put in an immediate complaint to the City Council about the Tree Preservation Order being broken.

    Help on maps and dates

    Can anybody get an overhead picture of Freeman’s Wood? I’m afraid my computer skills are not up to it. If this needs paying for we can arrange to reimburse you. This would be very useful for the Town Green and footpath applications. A map can be emailed to me at

    Also, can anybody remember the exact date that the fence started going up? We are pretty sure it was some time in November 2011, but if anybody has an exact date that would be very useful.

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