Save our children’s memories.

There is a plan to build four four-bedroomed houses eight parking spaces and a garage on the left hand side of this picture right next to our lovely garden:

2016-05-17 10.48.52


They would be on the green belt and would endanger a rare site of special scientific interest below, here:

2016-05-17 10.52.48View of the special calcareous fen with many rare species. This is directly below the proposed development.

But around 100 people have already objected.

My objection follows and after that there are some guidelines in case you want to help by making your own objection (which doesnt need to be long and can take just a few minutes).

Wyon’s objection to the proposal:

Save our children’s memories.

Last spring, together with two small girls, I watched an orange tip butterfly laying eggs on some garlic mustard. It curled its vibrating tail as it delivered the next generation. Watching it we shared an absorbed stillness.

A few days later we noted the eggs hatching into caterpillars. Last week I saw a small boy playing happily here for hours, on his own with a polystyrene aeroplane, bending to pick it up from the dewy grass. Overhead a kite circled, calling into the wind.

A girl down the road has a home-made map of secret pathways along the bottoms of the gardens. The boundaries aren’t clear and we like it that way. There are dens in the woods around here where children play happily. They climb trees and explore. They splash in the stream and come home muddy, happy, and wholesome tired, having subliminally ingested the bird song.

These experiences are important. During the course of this campaign I have been struck by the number of older people who have shared treasured memories of playing here when they were young. For generations people have played here. There are tales of pigs kept in the woods, homemade wells, rope swings. My own son sat for many hours when he was little in a tree overlooking this site. We built a tree house around him. Throughout his childhood he brought friends to play in our garden (next to the site). I recall one of them, aged about 7, was initially frightened of the long grass because he had never been in any. When I proudly dug up some potatoes some of the children watching did not know what an unprocessed potato looked like.

I object to this proposal on behalf of our children. We want our children to grow up with an understanding of, and reverence for, nature. Such reverence doesn’t come from family trips to the park. It comes from getting close up and absorbed with wildness – often without parental input. It comes from laying down memories which will later inform a desire to value and look after the environment. Without this our cities will become ghettos in which children stay inside, alone with little screens and later become disconnected adults, no longer concerned to protect and value nature, or joyous in it.

Lye Valley is unusual for a city location. There are houses on one side of Lye Valley Road and long gardens opposite. That way we can weave the wildness into our city life. That way the city isn’t a place apart from the country but mixed in with it, preserving our connection and in the process developing community.

We think that in this respect it is something of a social experiment – a model for the future that challenges the assumption that cities need to become increasingly devoid of wildness and the countryside pushed further and further away, split apart, with fewer and fewer people living there. We are demonstrating that it is possible to live in a balanced way with nature, even in cities, and keep our children connected.

If this development goes ahead, we fear it will set a terrible precedent and one by one all the gardens will become developed and all the wildness will be lost for ever.

Just as the orange tip butterfly needs wildness in which to start the next generation successfully so do we. For this reason I object to this application and urge the council to say no.

How to make an objection if you want to help stop this development.

We’ve been advised that getting lots of individual objections in will have more influence than organising a petition. You don’t have to be a neighbour, as you have an option to comment as a “member of the public”. Deadline May 25th.  Numbers matter – no need to write a major missive (although you can if you want! Best to draft it first in Word or equivalent and paste in – the system can time out and lose your text otherwise), just another name logged will make a difference. So, if you would be up for adding your voice, here’s what you do:

Online You can register an objection on the Council’s planning website. It’s case number 16/00968/FUL  – here’s the link:

It’s quite easy, just a few things to note:
– You need to register on their system. If you signed a while ago, the system might not remember. If that happens, just re-register, it doesn’t take long (easier than fiddling around with requesting password reminders that might never materialise!)
– if it says your message has been truncated after you press submit, it’s telling fibs
– your objection won’t show up straightaway – earliest possible is the next working day, sometimes it can take a few days.

Post – if you want to avoid the computer route, you can write to the Planning Department, St Aldates Chambers, 109-113 St Aldate’s, OX1 1DS, making sure you include the case number (16/00968/FUL) and your name and address.

If you’re not very local to the area, one of the best things you can say is that you visit it and value its unique local character. If you sometimes walk (or run!) along the road, mention that too.

If you prefer to comment anonymously, this is possible.

More detail and background to the application: If you’d like to know a bit more about the site, and the planning context, have a look at some of the objections – particularly the one from  Friends of Lye Valley.

Finally, if anyone has experience of influencing planning decisions and has any pearls of wisdom to offer, do let me know!

Many thanks,





2 thoughts on “Save our children’s memories.

  1. This is a poetical treatise but I wonder if it will resound with the planning authority. I offer an alternate argument. Britain hosts a dense population of 679 persons per square mile second only to Belgium in Europe. Despite this density Britain has managed to retain a beautiful countryside. Developers constantly try to nibble at this countryside – it is to the credit of planning authorities, such as themselves, to have managed to protect the sanctity of the landscape for present and future generations to enjoy. Once gone it can never be retrieved – do your part!

    • thanks Jane, there are now over 200 objections – many along the lines you suggest so I decided to do something different – even if it doesnt have a direct effect on the planners. Janet, needless to say has done a much more rigorous and well researched argument. So much looking forward to seeing you soon.

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