Sunday, 18 April 2021

Abuse of valuable amenity

LITTLE Orchard is described in Watlington’s neighbourhood development plan as one of the town’s “key spaces with high amenity value”.

The plan, which was published in 2017, said: “The area is important locally for the habitat it provides and biodiversity it supports.

“The public have had free access to this small area of woodland for many years but the masonic lodge had concerns over access and put up boundary fencing.

“Watlington Parish Council is in dialogue with the lodge with a view to securing the woodland for the benefit of the community.”

When the area was cleared in 2019, the lodge said: “After a look over the land we found damaged trees, broken bottles and a large amount of other things that we don’t wish to detail. The trees were made safe and pruned as necessary and the waste materials picked up and disposed of properly.

“All this needed to be done for health and safety reasons and to ensure that we showed a duty of care. The works carried out were by a professional tree care company and with the authorisation of the district council.

“The trustees would be liable for any personal injury incurred on the land if we failed to secure the land and show a duty of care.

“We were left with no choice but to erect a steel security fence both to protect us and any pedestrians.

“We have had quite a number of people say that the work we have done, at great expense, has greatly improved the look of the land.

“They feel safer walking down the pathway with the fence there, especially at night.”

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