Freemens Meadow

The wildlife corridor stretching from Aylestone Meadows through the city to Watermead Park and beyond is of great interest to AMAS, particularly those areas in the immediate vicinity of the Meadows.

The fate of Freemens Meadow (the land opposite the football stadium) was  discussed at the Westcotes Ward Meeting on 17th June 2014 in response to an application by Barratt Homes, sister company of David Wilson, to amend previous planning permissions currently under consideration.

Planned for almost a decade now, hedgerows and blackberry shrubs were uprooted at Freemens Meadow in 2013 to make way for large apartment blocks along the river (see map a). This has damaged wildlife and would further absorb the river into the concrete of Americanised suburbia and block the wildlife corridor running from Aylestone Meadows all the way to Watermead Park and beyond.

However, a recent application has reconsidered these plans to bring required green area within the estate up to the river and build houses rather further back rather than apartments (see map c).

Before we are too shocked, however, it should be noted that the new “wild flower habitat area”, referred to in dozens of previous applications as “land occupied by electricity pylons”, has recently been identified as a possible strategic flood risk area (b). Therefore, Barratt cannot easily build on this piece of land anyway. Barratt are proposing to move Green space from usable land to unusable land, and this revision is driven by profit.

Additionally, Barratt must also build a bridge linking the estate with Rawdykes Road. There have been technical concerns that the bridge (which seems necessary) may increase the flood risk to neighbouring building.

Wildlife issues and local amenities were discussed at the meeting, along with some technical discussion on the bridge.

River users seemed to agree that the green space under the new proposal might be slightly more beneficial from a wildlife perspective relative to currently approved plans.

The new green space is larger, closer to the river and adjacent to the main river wildlife corridor.

One the other hand, building of the small phase 7 (the red outline in map c) was seen as superfluous and exclusionary. Original plans in 2000 were rejected by the Council because the estate appeared closed off from local amenities. The plans for phase 7 are clearly greedy and close the river to local residents.

It was suggested that the wild flower habitat area could be extended to encapsulate phase 7 without disillusioning the dollar-signs in Barratt’s eyes too much – it is a small area suitable for few houses. This would open up the estate to the river, in line with earlier, now-cancelled plans for a ‘Riverside Square’. Additionally, this extra green-space may offset the increased flood-risk of the bridge that Barratt must build.

Of course, if we were greedy, the community would like to stop the building altogether. However, supporting the move of Green space but challenging phase 7 to enlarge the scope and accessibility of this wildlife area may provide a fruitful compromise between providing homes, protecting the wildlife corridor and local amenities.

Cllr Sarah Russell has undertaken to discuss this item at the Planning and Development Committee. Further information will be posted hear when the date for this item is set.

AMAS is supporting member Sam Bamkin to advocate as objector.