Before Mr and Mrs Lightfoot purchased the Local Amenity Area in October 2013, the land was laid out as grassland inside a barked path, and meadow flowers were planted outside the path. The land was maintained by Phoenix by monthly cutting of the grass to the inside of the path, laying bark on the path itself, and allowing the wildflower meadow to flower and seed before cutting back at the end of the year. The residents of four villages walked the field, and it was as much a community meeting place as it was a place of natural beauty. The surrounding area itself is exceptionally quiet and this gave the whole field, especially in summer, a tranquil and peaceful feeling.
Many parents brought their children to see the wildlife, which ranged from rabbits, many kinds of birds (we still have the woodpecker) to butterflies and other insects. The open access onto Watery Lane also provided a safe route to the old railway line and the children's play area in Knighton. There were also voles living on the land, which in turn attracted owls. Bats were frequently seen flying at dusk.
When Mr and Mrs Lightfoot took over the land, they immediately stopped any maintenance of the path and started cutting the field, including the wildflower meadows, for hay/silage. The bark on the path disappeared with the first mowing. The rabbits and moles were gassed; there are no more voles and the owls only pay infrequent visits. Subsequently, Mr and Mrs Lightfoot constructed barbed wire fences to exclude members of the public completely. The field is now being taken over by nettles and ragwort. Mr and Mrs Lightfoot have publicly stated that they want to keep the use of the field private so that they can train their Husky sled dogs several times a week.
It can be useful to remember just why we are fighting for this land. We want to put up some photographs and quotes from people about their memories of what the land was like before the Lightfoots. Send in your memories and we'll add them here (send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org).
First up, we have some superb photographs of part of the wildflower meadow taken by James Crook in the summer of 2010 (all photos Copyright ©2010 James Crook).
James also has a photo of the top part of the central grassed area from early 2011 when Wimpey were in the early stages of development. This photo clearly shows that the field was being used by members of the public (photo Copyright ©2011 James Crook).