Residents in "village green" bid to regain access to popular woodland

A Dorset community is applying to have a popular local woodland re-classed as a village green after its new owners restricted access.

Image: Simon Scurr (CC BY SA 2.0)
Image: Simon Scurr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Residents of Corfe Mullen are collecting data on the use of the Stoney Down Plantation, 2km west of the village, prior to access being restricted by its owner, as part of a submission to Dorset County Council which has to be completed by 21 April.

Since October 2015, public access on the site is limited to a single fenced bridleway. The owner, Paradise Farms, has proposed setting up a holiday park on the site - plans which drew 75 concerned residents to a parish council meeting when they were first aired. 

Activist Jan Walker said: "Those of us who previously enjoyed free access to all parts of the woodland for walking, horse riding, nature watching, identifying veteran trees and old arboriculture practices, and foraging, as well as making dens and general play, are naturally upset at this loss."

She explained: "We need to demonstrate that people visiting Stoney Down felt they were free to engage in these sorts of activities, were unaware of any restrictions on access to any part of it, were never stopped and were not aware that they might have needed permission to access any part of it."

Containing remant features including ancient oaks, the 50-hectare site is part of a designated Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV). 

According to The Open Spaces Society, "A green is any land on which a significant number of inhabitants of any area has indulged in lawful sports and pastimes, for 20 years, as of right."

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