Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

No-one knows who the land now belongs to (Picture: BPM Media)

Residents of a road in a Gloucestershire village have been left baffled and unable to trim their hedges after the appearance of a mysterious fence.

Highnam village locals were shocked when they discovered what they thought was public green space had been sold off at auction.

The small stretch of land between Oakridge and The Range has been sold at auction in London despite locals believing it belonged to Tewkesbury Borough Council.

And now Highnam residents know it’s been sold – but they have no idea who bought it.

Mark McGillion was among the 400 people who signed a petition calling for the fence to be removed and to ensure the trees remain and the area is kept as a green space, as it has been for the past 40 years.

Mr McGillion also said local people have been using it to plant wildflowers and he would hate to lose this.

His home at Maidenhall borders the mysteriously sold site and the new fence means he cannot get access to trim his hedge.

Mr McGillion said: ‘If the fence stays up and the space is lost, I would feel enclosed in it.

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‘The view we’ve had before would be lost and for me personally it would block access to my hedge and I feel for neighbours who have used this space to walk to the shops.

‘This is part of Highnam’s open space and we’ve been using it as a wildflower planting area. To lose this permanently would be devastating.’

Mark McGillion is among the 400 residents who have signed a petition calling for the fence to be removed (Picture: BPM Media)

Charlie Coats, chairman of Highnam Parish Council, said he feels very sad that the fence has been put up and says he’s been ‘inundated by calls and emails’ about the issue.

He also shared that residents have been in the process of applying for village green status for the site.

He said: ‘The character of Highnam is dictated by small interspersed areas of green space, so we want this nipped in the bud by the borough council and we want village green status from Gloucestershire County Council.

‘This could be the thin edge of the wedge where other people might do this to other communities.’

An online petition set up by the parish council says the green space should be protected by a covenant and deed that dates back to 1983.

The petition calls on people in the community to sign in order to ‘get the fence removed, to ensure the trees are retained as they are, and support the application that the land be assigned Village Green Status’.

It is also asking for support from Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean, Mark Harper, stating that the area has three large, mature trees that are protected by tree by preservation orders.

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‘Two of these [trees] have heritage asset value dating back to when the village was just farmland. We fear this is to potentially fell the trees and sell the plot on as a “clear open site” for a profit, as is happening in many parts of the county and country,’ the petition added.

MP Mr Harper shared a post on Facebook in which he explained what had happened and promised residents that he was asking Tewkesbury Borough Council about the ownership of the land and any potential plans for it.

He posted: ‘I have been contacted by a number of constituents about the land south of Maidenhall, Highnam. I am aware that a fence has recently been installed and many residents are concerned about the plans for the land.

‘I have contacted Tewkesbury Borough Council and Gloucestershire County Council, to establish some of the facts surrounding the ownership of the land and any potential plans. I am also looking into the details of the Village Green Status application.

A spokesperson for Tewkesbury Borough Council said in a statement: ‘We are aware of the fence that has been put up in Highnam. As this is the subject of a live enforcement investigation, we are unable to comment further at this time.’

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