The Voice Of The People Of The Forest of Dean

Response to The Countryside Agency on their strategy for the Forest of Dean

An extremely constructive meeting was held at the Forest Hills Golf Club on the 27th of February 2002, and a summary of the topics that were discussed and the conclusions that were drawn is available on our Press Releases page. Val Kirby of The Countryside Agency met with Dean Forest Voice to update DFV on The Countryside Agency's strategy for the Forest of Dean. Discussions are ongoing, but our response is shown below:

DFV has made an initial response to the Countryside Agency's Integrated Rural Development plan for the Forest of Dean. We see this as an opportunity to find a new and more enlightened way forward rather than looking at ways of re-interpreting current unsuccessful plans and guidelines. This initial response can be summarised in the following twelve points:

1. Statutory Forest to be strictly adhered to - No development intrusion whatsoever. All Dean Forest Legislation strictly adhered to and pit heads dealt with accordingly. Boundaries marked at roadsides with Forest Sandstone markers to raise public awareness of the different areas involved.

2. Core Forest identified as extreme outcrop of limestone and tight policies put in place to ensure no large scale limestone extraction can ever occur. Tight policies restricting housing development to individual properties with specific attention to schemes for local people.

3. Hundred of St. Briavels boundary observed and recognised as Forest Cultural Boundary. Roadside boundary marked with appropriate Cast Iron markers - again, to raise public awareness.

4. Forest of Dean District boundary - concentrate Industry on Severnside with Lydney as focal town. Cinderford & Coleford to have independent themed identities as part of Forest wide plan, each to have their own purpose designed development strategies based on and consistent with the overall Inside Out model. Some inward investment could be considered at Severnside but on an approached rather than coaxed or induced basis (The right type of employer is just as important).

5. Establish Light Commuter Rail Network linking Cinderford, Coleford, and Lydbrook with Lydney. Initial emphasis on commute to work but subsequently also linking up for tourism. Multiple stop network with cycle / walking connectivity so that car traffic is kept to a minimum.

6. The primary road network should be confined to a continuous upgrading of the A48 and A40 with the long term aim of de-trunking and restricting the A4136 to light traffic / access only heavy goods.

7. Core Forest to be 'Working Forest' in every respect, administered by a Verderers' Court "with teeth". Full observance of all Dean legislation so as to bring it to bear in order to give greater protection to rights, culture, landscape and ultimate quality of life, while at same time ensuring that nothing is up for grabs to outside profiteers.

8. The aim is to look upon the attributes of isolation as an asset rather than continue to try to reverse.

9. Encouragement should be given to small to medium high tech businesses that can deliver their product primarily by wire and / or light transport with minimal transport requirements (similar to the work from home concept). Some of these industries could be accommodated in the Core Forest region, designed to blend in with the traditional scene, and could be sited adjacent or near to the proposed light rail system, which in turn could possibly transport light goods? A new Planning class would be required to accommodate this, but it would be well worth the effort.

10. A full range of local services. The plan should aim to make the full range of services available within the Forest. Maternity facilities are top of the list.

11. The detail of the plan should be worked out by local people, with more power to guide the destiny of their own individual communities. We should promote individuality in house building in the villages and towns instead of estates.

12. We must plan to rigidly protect the Forest identity, culture and rights, but be more flexible towards economic and social matters.