Housing plans Woman’s plea to save ‘last few acres’ of farm
AWOMAN has made a passionate plea for developers to keep their hands off a site she says is “precious” and should not be built on.
Sharon Hunt spent many happy hours playing at Oakley Farm as a child and is horrified that it has been earmarked by developer Robert Hitchins Limited for 250 homes.
The site is at the back of Sainsbury’s supermarket in Priors Road, Cheltenham. It is between Harp Hill to the south, Pillowell Close to the north and houses and the underground Hewlett’s Reservoir to the east.
Dozens of people have already spoken out against the plans of the developer, which has said it intends to submit a planning application to the borough council. There are fears that building on the site would see countryside on the edge of the town disappear forever.
Mrs Hunt, who now lives in Chalford Hill, near Stroud, but used to live in Ryeworth Road, Charlton Kings, close to the site, said: “Oakley Farm has been such a magical place in my life and my family’s life thanks to my great grandparents who went there a long time ago with Grandma, who was 13 and died there at the age of 97.
“We had the most wonderful childhood. On a small farm, at the time, we got up to all sorts of mischief.
“I’m really saddened to find out that Hitchins are going to try to build 250 houses on this precious bit of land.
“It used to be 150 acres. It’s now about 36, I think. There’s still potential here to have some sort of establishment that could still benefit the general public.
“How about an ‘olde worlde’ farm on a very small scale and turn back the clock on Oakley Farm? Take it back as much as possible to as it used to be years ago, with possible rare breeds.”
The 59-year-old added that the site could be used to educate children and adults about the countryside and farm animals.
Referring to when her grandparents rented the farm and she would visit it, Mrs Hunt said: “There were wonderful trees, flora and fauna. Allowing all of us to be up close and hands-on with nature like this was such a good education, one that I won’t ever forget.
“We all knew that one day Oakley Farm would no longer be part of our family and would only be in our memories. It’s heartbreaking to think of the last few acres being built on, not just for us as a family but for everyone.
“We need our precious trees, hedges, grassland and flowers more now than ever and so do all creatures, great and small. We are all very aware of the urgent need for more housing but at what cost?
“Just back in summer 2007, we had mass flooding, and all ended up on bottled water. This could so easily happen again. Oakley Farm already has a network of pipes running under its pastures but still the fields up above help act as a natural soak-away. Where will all this water end up when these last few remaining fields become yet more concrete?
“As humans some of us never seem to know when enough is enough. Hasn’t poor old Oakley Farm given up enough of her land already?”
A spokeswoman for Robert Hitchins Limited said it declined to comment on this occasion. She added that there was no date yet for when a planning application might be submitted.
Sharon Hunt’s family rented Oakley Farm when she was a child and she is ‘heartbroken’ the remaining land could be developed; inset, Sharon with her brother Paul at the farm in Battledown in the 1960s