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Fight to save woodland
A DETERMINED community is battling to save a woodland oasis from bulldozers.
A former allotments site, which is situated just to the south of the old Peasley Cross Hospital in Marshalls Cross Road, is under threat of development after being put up for sale by the Department of Health.
The near four-acre site is allocated for housing in the St Helens Local Development Plan, but campaigners say the only development that should be allowed on the site is to increase its attraction as a haven for wildlife and an amenity for the community.
They have enlisted the support of St Helens Green Party in a bid to save the beauty spot.
Marshalls Cross Road resident Bryan Leyland said: “This is a desperate and disgraceful attempt by a Government department to trash what little is left of our countryside for cash.
“We’re not going to let it disappear under concrete without a fight.
“The Department of Health and St Helens Council should be working with us to protect and expand this wildlife haven for the benefit of the community and patients from our nearby hospitals.”
Olive Grey has lived nearby for all her 95 years.
She said: “There used to be allotments here many years ago, but the people who tended them were thrown off. It would be nice to see them back.
“There’s a stream and there was a lake too, but that was filled in.
“The trees have probably been here 40 or 50 years and we’ve seen long-tailed tits, blue tits, wrens, blackbirds, thrushes, jays, finches, owls, kestrels and woodpeckers down the years, pheasants, foxes, squirrels, hedgehogs and bats too.
“It would be a tragedy to lose it. Once it’s gone they are gone forever.”
Conservationist Francis Williams said he believed the land had been gifted to St Helens Council by the Hughes family of Sherdley Hall.
“It’s a greenfield oasis. In the midst of housing and industry you could be in another world,” he said.
“There has not been any consultation with local people, who are very concerned. They have their own little nature reserve at the back of their homes and would like to keep it.”
In the 1990s a group of Peasley Cross residents unsuccessfully bid for the land at auction. NHS England had not replied to the Star’s questions at the time of going to press.
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