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7th December 2016

Support needed to save nearly 200 trees in 800-year old deer park

Jill Butler

Aldermaston Park

The Ancient Tree Forum is backing a campaign to save the last remnant of a medieval deer park from being turned into a housing development. ATF’s supporters are urged to register their opposition to the development.

The planning application for 227 houses in Aldermaston Park near Reading, which has caused local uproar, would see the loss of more than 180 trees (60% of the trees in the application area), some of which are hundreds of years old. The damage to this important wildlife habitat and nationally important historic parkland is being justified on the basis that it will ensure the remainder of the habitat can be adequately managed. The site is Grade two listed on the National Heritage List for England’s Register of Parks and Gardens.

Aldermaston Park is a 140 acre estate which was bought in 2014 for £4.7m by Praxis Holdings Limited, a property investment company based in the Isle of Man. The planning proposal will take up 15% of the site and the Woodland Trust is calling for the application to be turned down based on the scale of habitat loss and damage in the deer park. In addition to the loss of the trees threatened with removal, it is believed that hundreds more will see their habitat damaged, fragmented or lost.

Jill Butler, Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Specialist, said ‘This is an unprecedented planning application in terms of the devastating impact on an historic wood pasture and parkland, which is an incredibly valuable wildlife habitat. And to say that the remaining fraction of deer park can only be managed properly by first building houses is a complete contradiction. We urge people to support us in opposing this application.’

Wood pasture and parkland of this quality is nationally important historically and culturally. It may derive from medieval hunting forests, or from wooded commons. Others are designed landscapes, often associated with big estates dating from the 16th century. Part of the great hunting forest that the Saxon kings and William the Conqueror called Windsor Forest; Aldermaston was first recorded in 1202.

Anyone opposing this planning application is encouraged to register their opposition to the development – and if possible to state that they are Ancient Tree Forum supporters.

Register your opposition to the development  

Posted by: Hannah Solloway Hannah is the Development Officer for the Ancient Tree Forum.

14 Comments | Leave a Comment

  • mike hamblett says:
    Posted December 07, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Profiteers should be made to use brownfield sites first. There is so little forest left.

  • Ian Elphick says:
    Posted December 07, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Deer Parks are an historic part of our landscape, wildlife and ecology, and can never be recreated. There is plenty of low grade land about.

    • Toby Hindson says:
      Posted December 07, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      Spot on Ian.

  • Jamie myers says:
    Posted December 07, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Terrible. There are plenty of sites that would incur less habitat loss. Start an online petition!

  • Peter Gurney says:
    Posted December 07, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Are responses to planning applications still taken into consideration if you aren’t a resident within the council area?

    • Jill Butler says:
      Posted December 08, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Hi Peter, this is a nationally designated site on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens plus it is priority wood pasture and parkland habitat as defined by Natural England. It is open to anyone to respond to planning applications within or without an authority , but as these are of national significance it is entirely appropriate for anyone to make an objection if they see fit.

  • Martina says:
    Posted December 07, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Having seen and marvelled at these exceptionally ancient trees I cannot imagine their forceful removal. After all, nobody would seriously consider demolishing Ely Cathedral.

  • Graham says:
    Posted December 07, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Let them stand… they’ve supported us for years.

  • Derick Evans says:
    Posted December 08, 2016 at 10:38 am

    New builds must only be allowed on brownfield sites. There is so little enough forest, never mind ancient forest left. #needsapetition

  • Kate Perrott says:
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Brownfield sites should be used first. The reason they are not is because it costs money to clear them. Save all our forests.

  • Martin Hicks says:
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:23 am

    NPPF is quite clear in highlighting the refusal of development affecting irreplaceable habitats, including…the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland. We tested this re ancient woodland a few years ago at Inquiry and won so there is precedent. However, NPPF qualify this: ‘unless the benefits outweigh the loss’. And no doubt Biodiversity Offsetting will come to the rescue…But in reality it really shouldn’t get a look in!

  • Jill Butler says:
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 6:49 am

    THanks Martin, that sounds really interesting. NPPF and NE Standing Advice should be helpful but we still have to make the best possible case. Can you give us more information about the case you were involved with and do you have a link to the Inspector’s report?

  • Tommy Hutchinson says:
    Posted January 03, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    What was the point of creating the ‘National Heritage List for England’s Register of Parks and Gardens’ if it gets ignored and abused!? It’s time for shortsighted monopolistic entities to not be allowed to do what they like because they have money. And in this case, any ‘offsetting’ does not justify loosing something which took 100’s of years to form!

  • Don Stenhouse says:
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I did an invertebrate survey on this site approx. 18 months ago and found a suite of Nationally scarce dead wood Coleoptera. I was only asked to do a job and not given details on the proposal but I was told that the ancient trees would not be touched and the development would be sympathetic. Of course, I should have known better! It saddens me to hear of the extent of this short sighted, profit based, plan.


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