Land sale media coverage

Thanks to all the media who reported on the Save Shottery campaign, invited us to give our response to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s decision to sell Briar Furlong for road building and property development and published our views:

Stratford Herald

151008 Stratford Herald letter

Stratford Observer

151009 Observer letter0002

The IndependentWilliam Shakespeare: Controversy over decision to sell land

2015 Independent Hamlet quote

Daily Mail Online: Controversy in Stratford

151008 Daily Mail

BBC: Shakespeare trust votes to sell land for houses

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RASE legal advice challenges SBT

In the next few weeks the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) will decide whether or not to sell the land behind Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (a field known as Briar Furlong) to the developers.

RASE  (Residents Against Shottery Expansion) has commissioned AHC Legal Advice on the duties of the trustees in considering whether or not to sell the land.

The full report makes fascinating reading but in summary, it says:

  • There are good grounds to believe that the Trust may be unable to sell Briar Furlong
  • Even if this is not the case, it would be perverse for the Trust to sell after it has consistently opposed the development, and to do so might indicate a flawed decision that could be successfully challenged
  • Should the Trust still be minded to sell the land, it would need first to undertake a public consultation of at least one month.

RASE has sent the report to Diana Owen at SBT and we’re very grateful that they have passed a copy to us to share with Save Shakespeare’s Shottery supporters. 

Read the details here: AHC Legal Advice

Media coverage of SDC appeal loss

Here’s a quick round-up of the latest media coverage of Stratford District Council’s loss of its High Court appeal against Eric Pickles.

Stratford Heraldhttp://www.stratford-herald.com/local-news/6889-high-court-judge-rejects-sdc-s-bid-to-block-800-new-homes-in-shottery.html

Stratford Observerhttp://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/2013/07/19/news-Shottery-development-appeal-fails-78310.html#.UejmpxK4ER8.twitter

BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-23377280

ITV Newshttp://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2013-07-19/criticisism-of-approval-to-build-800-homes-near-shakespeare-cottage/

The Telegraphhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10191975/Council-furious-over-plans-to-build-near-Anne-Hathaways-cottage.html

Coventry Telegraphhttp://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/hundreds-new-homes-built-edge-5145665

Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/debbie-griffiths/shottery-development-stratford_b_3619282.html 

Out-Law.com: http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2013/july/high-court-rejects-prematurity-challenge-to-800-home-shottery-approval/

Skifthttp://skift.com/2013/07/20/uk-town-bemoans-development-near-historic-home-of-shakespeares-wife/ 

Our view on high court decision

In case you missed it in full on the Huffington Post UK, here’s an edited version of Debbie’s response to the news about SDC losing the high court appeal:

Today (July 18) is a sad day in Stratford upon Avon for all of us who’ve been trying to stop 800 houses and a new road being built on historic land behind Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shakespeare’s hamlet of Shottery. Stratford District Council (SDC) has lost its high court appeal. So Eric Pickles’ decision, which flies in the face of his much lauded Localism Act, stands firm while a small community on the edge of a conservation area falls to its knees.

Now the legal cause is lost, the spotlight falls firmly back on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) who own the farmland (pictured) behind the Cottage. The developers need the SBT’s land to build the link road between the houses and business park. Without it, the whole scheme falls flat on its face.

To Sell or Not to Sell? That is the question. So far, Save Shottery’s never had a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from the Trust. Its latest statement is no different. The Trust says it will hold an emergency general meeting (EGM) as soon as possible to discuss the outcome of the Council’s failed challenge and to review the information it has gathered on the degree of harm the development will inflict on Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – one of its star properties.

Just last week, I attended a business open morning looking at SBT plans for one of the other Shakespeare properties it holds in trust for the nation: Nash’s House and New Place. I must admit that the plans are magnificent and I’d love to see them fulfilled. However, it comes with a £4.5m redevelopment price tag and the Trust could only hope for a maximum of £2m from Lottery funding. Where will the rest come from?

They didn’t mention selling off the family silver – i.e. Hathaway Cottage farmland, but the Shottery developer’s money would certainly enable the charity to fulfil its New Place plans. And some.

Save Shottery has always said the Trust should refuse the developer’s dirty money and become a global hero in this epic saga by refusing to sell off its land. We’d be right behind it in supporting an alternative, positive fundraising campaign that brings in the shekels for Shakespeare’s houses while protecting his heritage in Shottery.

If you agree, please send a message to Diana Owen, Chief Executive, so she can present your comments to her Trustees when they meet for its EGM. And, of course, we encourage you to share your comments on social media.

Have your say on the Neighbourhood Plan

It was very interesting to go along to the Town Hall today to take part in the consultation open day on Stratford’s Neighbourhood Plan.

If all goes to plan, Stratford will be a much nicer place to live, with up to 1,000 houses built on brownfield sites, with a thriving town centre, smart canal side area and lots of green leafy spaces.

The only downside are the plans around employment. You see, the brownfield zones identified for residential housing are where the current industrial site is around Timothy’s Bridge Road. It transpires that DCS want to move, so their plot would become vacant and the planners hope the other businesses would follow them onto a new business park. But where would this new industrial park be? Just off the A46 near the Wildmoor – you’ve guessed it, on current greenfield land. Right next door to the contested Shottery development, in fact.

Pressed on the issue, we were told that it wasn’t part of the West Stratford industrial allocation. This new business park is a standalone proposal that could go ahead regardless of whether the 800 houses get built.

So, in short, the Neighbourhood Plan proposals for house building on brownfield can only happen if the industrial park is relocated to a greenfield site. Apart from that, everything else looks hunky-dory.  But what do you think?  Have your say in person or online: http://www.ourstratford.org.uk/

Our response to James Ruddick’s article

Debbie Griffiths. Annoyingly, I couldn’t post this comment on the Huff Post site, so here’s what I think of James Ruddick’s article “History? Culture? Send in the bulldozers”:

On the whole a great article, but I’d like to make a ‘fuss’ over your claim that no-one’s batted an eyelid over this.  For 20 years, Residents Against Shottery Expansion (RASE) have been fighting the battle at every corner, albeit with polite English passion! They were one of the official opponents at the legal hearing where they presented a massive legal case and rallied many of us to appeal directly to the inspector. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) didn’t bother to turn up.

After Pickles’ decision, my hubbie and I lost patience, got angry and turned to social media, setting up the Save Shottery online campaign and petition.  Within weeks, we’d got the message out to people in 25 countries across the globe. The local media gave us stacks of coverage, but the only national to listen has been the Independent. Actually, we were interviewed recently for Third Sector charity magazine, but the editor decided to postpone until we know the outcome of next week’s hearing.

Yes, it’s unlikely we’ll win, but if we lose, there is still another twist in the tale. The SBT says it objects to the scheme, but has publicly refused to rule out selling the land to the developers. If we lose the appeal next week, we’d love you and your readers to join us in persuading the SBT to do the right thing – i.e. to scupper the development by refusing to sell out.