Camp Titnore, Worthing - possible eviction alert?
mark at tlio.org.uk
Thu Aug 7 22:20:54 BST 2008
After recent evictions of ecoprotestors at the Wembley Sports Ground, NW
London and the Bowl Court squat social centre in Shoreditch, North London,
all whilst the Climate Camp has been happening, activists at Camp Titnore
are preparing for a possible eviction. Camp Titnore, which has been going
since May 2006, seeks to protect the ancient woodland there from a
road-widening scheme as part of a housing development and associated
Tescos hypermarket which received planning approval under dubious
circumstances (the housing development so far has not got planning
permission). Read more below:
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Campers and tree dwellers at Camp Titnore prepare for possible
From: "Protect Our Woodland" <info at protectourwoodland.co.uk>
Date: Thu, August 7, 2008 8:35 pm
Dear friends and supporters,
With news that a revised planning application is to go before Worthing
council soon the Titnore campers are starting to prepare for a possible
eviction by Bailiffs. The camp tell us that on previous camp evictions the
bailiffs have come from Wales and stayed in local B and B's. With that in
mind the camp has requested everyone to keep a look out for groups of mini
busses parked around town and other local areas - climbing gear etc inside
is a give away.
As many of you will know the camp has been in the woods since May 2006 and
has survived flooding and storm force winds but is now in need of urgent
repairs to cope with the coming winter. All the skills are at the camp to do
that work but what they need is materials.
Most important is 12mm blue 'poly' rope and large tarpaulins. However things
such as hammers, saws, nails, shovels, forks in fact any unwanted things
like that are needed. One other thing, has anyone got a Nokia phone charger
with a round connector - the model number maybe ACP-7X. All items can be
Finally. We have discovered that the land Tesco want to build their new mega
store on is owned by them and Nissan - yes the car company. As the store
application has been passed by Worthing council, work to build the store
could start at anytime and be a day and night hell for all those who live
near the site.
Protect Our Woodland.
For a map of the area and directions to Camp Titnore:
To the West of Worthing in West Sussex there's ancient Titnore Lane - a
one time Droveway between the coastal plain and the South Downs. Either
side of the Lane is one of the final few remaining ancient woodlands on
the Sussex coastal plain. Within there reside a group of committed,
hobbit-like woodland defenders who are now 7 months into their tree top
occupation after moving onto the site back in May.
It is a fight between two worlds. One the one hand, a 25-strong band of
woodland occupiers are digging their heels in to defend around 275 ancient
oaks, ashes and beech (many more than 150 years old), to save woodland
which is home to a number of protected species, including great crested
newts, bats, dormice, badgers, skylarks and corn buntings. The battle is
on to save Titnore Woods from a road widening scheme deemed necessary for
an earmarked 875-home housing estate and associated new Tesco hypermarket.
Their struggle has attracted huge public support locally, with Worthing
residents now being joined by high-profile names such as Dame Anita
Roddick and comedian Rob Newman, while earlier this year, Dr Caroline
Lucas M.E.P for South East England presented the Mayor of Worthing a
petition on behalf of concerned local residents and members of
Opposing their occupation is the might of a consortium of housing
developers and Tescos, keen to see approval for a huge combined housing
and retail development get rubber stamped by the local council. There is
also the landowner of the contested land within which they have set up
camp, Fitzroy Somerset, 83, who stands to earn up to £70 million from the
land sale to developers once planning permission is granted. The total
value of the development in an area known as West Durrington is estimated
to be a staggering £3 billion.
The focus of the fight rests upon the status of Titnore Lane, which has
survived battles in the past, when 30 years ago, a local campaign
succeeded in preventing it from becoming a dual carriageway. The fight
over this little country lane earmarked to be the main road linking the
new estate with the main A27 is gathering momentum.....
PoW to the people?
The battle to save Titnore Woods stepped up a gear in 2006 after Deputy PM
John Prescott refused original calls for a Public Enquiry into the
development. Public sympathy for this spirited drive to save the woodland
have been bourne out of the efforts of a local campaign called 'Protect
Our Woodlands' (PoW!), which has brought together local conservationists,
direct-action environmental campaigners and local residents. It has been a
campaign waging locally for around five years. "I guess those in power at
County Hall Chichester at the time of agreeing the structure plan for
Worthing (about 20 years ago) knew even then there would be a stink when
plans were eventually drawn up for the massive development that would
swallow up the meadows, hedgerows, part of the ancient wood and the
century's old Lane", says John Clark, spokesperson for the PoW campaign.
"Those of us who keep an eye on the politicians didn't spot what they were
up to all those years ago, but sure enough, as soon as the plans were
announced 4 years ago, the gravity of the situation became immediately
apparant, and so, PoW was born", adds John. The campaign held a series of
meetings, and managed to encourage many concerned locals to attend
planning meetings, as well as getting questionnaires completed. However,
misgivings that their concerns were falling on deaf ears started to be
realised at a Public Inquiry in 2004 into the Worthing Local Plan, when
the Inspector's recommendation to change the road layout of the
development was ignored.
By now alarm bells were ringing and more conservation and amenity groups
became involved as one application after another to do with the
development was announced. This was a great help, as those groups brought
with them specialists in various fields such as ecology and road design
and they were soon able to discover major weaknesses in the developers'
and council planning department's procedures. Severe doubts were expressed
over the legitimacy of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) while is
was claimed the status of the Lane had been incorrectly stated at a
critical council planning meeting in order to get planning approval (it is
alleged Titnore Lane had it's 60 mph limit order imposed on it ever since
it was wrongly classified by the Highways Agency with 'A' road status when
planning consent was being agreed for the A27 bypass). Meanwhile, English
Nature (now Natural England) were criticised for declining to revisit the
Housing, at what cost?
As plans for the development involving a consortium of the Heron
Corporation alongside Bryant Homes (part of Taylor Woodrow) and Persimmon
Homes became public knowledge, details relating to the 875 housing estate
started to leak out. News spread through Worthing of the developers' plan
for building the 875 new houses on an area of land which is flood-prone.
Locals becoming aware of the proposal were dismayed to learn that the plan
to inject a concrete soup deep under ground at extreme pressure to
stabilise the ground might contaminate the town's drinking water! It is
claimed by local hydrologists that the concrete grouting will permeate
underground aquifers in an area which has a very high water table, with
the proposed development earmarked to be very near an existing extraction
borehole. While there's exasperation with the decision by Worthing Borough
Council to approve outline planning permission for so much housing on an
area of land considered to be unsuitable for so large a development,
campaigners also point to wider impacts on local transport infrastructure.
"All these extra people are going to have to commute elsewhere for work,
which means more pressure on the existing road network", adds John from
PoW! Yet despite all this, a renewed plea to Communities Secretary of
State Ruth Kelly to call in the development to be examined at a Public
Inquiry was recently rejected by Whitehall.
Attached to the new proposed development is a brand new Tesco's
hypermarket, which will be the largest store in the region. Tescos have
been going through their own planning procedure separate to the housing
scheme and the planning application has not been without controversy.
While Tesco's planning permission to expand their existing store in West
Durrington had expired, plans for a brand new huge hypermarket were
released. Then, at a planning meeting in late spring this year, where the
main item advertised on the agenda was approval of an extension to the
existing planning permission for expansion, to local campaigners
astonishment, a vote on approval of the hypermarket was rushed through at
the end of the meeting. It is thought that Tesco's are very keen to see an
improved road network in the area, a requirement for their transport
fleets of articulated lorries.
Local council u-turn on the road?
The continued controversy spurred another local organisation - the
Worthing Society - to threaten Worthing Borough Council with a judicial
review into the whole application unless they looked at the road scheme
again. This was well-timed, as the latest Government guidance on speed
limits was released in the summer following the publication of new draft
guidelines on highway improvements issued by the Department for Transport.
As a result, following consultation, West Sussex County Council (WSCC)
informed the developers that Titnore Lane should not now have to be
straightened. They recommended to the developers that in preparing their
detailed planning application, they should consider not making alterations
to Titnore Lane - potentially saving Titnore Woods from having to be cut
to the ground - nor a roundabout to access the proposed West Durrington
Urban Development. Despite this, Titnore Lane's 60 mph remains, as PoW!
call for a 30 mph limit to be restored to narrow Titnore Lane by the
However, for the tree-defenders, what might appear a significant climbdown
will not have been formally ratified until the developer's new detailed
planning application is presented. The fear of campaigners is that if the
planning application ignores the road issue and approves the development,
traffic accidents will mean the Highways Agency recommending widening the
road further down the line, meaning the application of the chainsaw to
serve a safer passage for speeding traffic. "The battle might be won in
the short-term, but the war would be lost in the long-run", says John from
PoW! contend that recent events have controversially brought the whole
planning process into question. "The new advice on the status of Titnore
Lane negates the original outline permission for the housing development",
continues John. "The whole process should be scrapped and started from
scratch, including reconsidering the actual size of the development and
the suitability of it's location in view of issues such as the high-water
table - all factors which in my opinion should stack the odds more heavily
weighed in favour of refusal".
Diggin-in for the Long Haul
It is with all of this in mind that protesters are digging in for the long
haul, having vowed that they will stay in the tree camp to the bitter end
deploying "passive resistance". Having lost an appeal against trepass of
the land in the High Court in London back in August 2006, protestors had
been fully expecting to be evicted by ballifs with immediate effect -
playing a waiting game. The treetop defenders, however, remain on guard.
Following in a fine tradition of eco-resistance in the UK, a network of
tunnels had been already constructed by the end of the summer 2006.
For more details please see: www.protectourwoodland.co.uk
A 2005 report by The Woodland Trust and the WWF (World Wide Fund for
Nature) shows that more than 100 of the countys most important ancient
woods are facing destruction, despite planning policies which seek to
Titnore Woods are part of an area designated a Site of Nature Conservation
Importance (SNCI). The Oaks along Titnore Lane are of high lichenological
interest and include Schismatomma quercina which is very rare in Sussex
and the nationally-important uncommon species Arthonia vinosa.
Stanhope Borehole located near the western edge of the existing housing
estate of West Durrington (end of Adur Avenue), would be in close
proximity to the proposed development and the concrete grouting of the
underlying ground below the new housing. Drainage will be managed through
a network of ditches diverting runoff between a series of lakes which will
feed into the River Rife.
New draft guidelines on highway improvements issued by the Department for
Transport now state that county councils can now impose 40mph speed limits
on roads without house frontages, whereas before, this was not allowed.
Website reference for background to what has happened and a map of the
area & location of development:
John Clark from Protect Our Woodlands: 01903 262945 (best time to call -
between 10am & 12pm) email: info at protectourwoodland.co.uk
John Appleton (Head of Planning - Worthing Borough Council): 01903 221333
John Livermore (Chairman of Worthing Council Development Control
Committee): 01903 502178 (home tel. no.)
Directions to Camp Titnore:
The camp is in woods just north of "Somerset Lake", a fishing lake east of
Titnore Lane. Easiest access is from Fulbeck Avenue, off Titnore Way. Take
the path at the far east of Fulbeck Avenue, walk over the small wooden
footbridge and then turn left until there is a large gap in the hedgerow
on the left, walk through into the open field and follow the track to the
far side of the field, keeping the clump of trees to your left.
It can also be reached via the car park at Tesco's in Durrington, which is
served by no 3 and 4 buses from Worthing central railway station.
Basically head straight on from the entrance to the fields at the back end
of the supermarket car park, and walk across the open field to the other
side, then turn right long the track reaching the gap in the hedgerow
Nearest railway station is Goring by Sea on the main South Coast line with
direct trains from Brighton, Portsmouth and London. There is a camp phone
- 0780 4245324. if you are coming from the station, then cross over the
footbridge over to the opposite platform, and out of the station exit
turn right into the road and walk up until you reach a major A-road
roundabout. Titnore Lane is a minor country lane at the other end of the
roundabout (straight on). Walk down here and take a right into Titnore Way
further down, which feeds into Fulbeck Avenue.
More information about the Diggers350