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Woodland campaigners lob objection at tennis star Konta’s home plan

Words: Huw Morris
Forest / iStock-668923534

Environmental campaigners are using latest national planning policy to find fault and call out a proposal by tennis star Johanna Konta to build in an ancient woodland that inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh adventures.

The Woodland Trust is objecting to plans by the British number one to demolish a building and construct a four-bedroomed, one-and-a-half-storey property within the grounds of her East Sussex home.

The charity says the development will destroy part of the centuries old Ashdown Forest and goes against the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Under the NPPF issued last month, ancient woodland has the highest level of protection and local authorities should refuse proposals that are not “wholly exceptional” if they lead to the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats.

“In light of new planning rules published by the government, the local planning authority should call game, set and match on this insensitive application,” said trust campaigner Jack Taylor.

“Miss Konta’s desire for a new house in this location can in no way meet the wholly exceptional test. It could be sited anywhere within her grounds rather than being lobbed in the middle of precious habitat and we would urge her to reconsider.”

Author AA Milne set his Winnie-the-Pooh books in Ashdown Forest after watching his son Christopher Robin play with toys in the woods.

The plan is Konta’s latest shot at building a home on the site after a similar application was ruled out by Wealden District Council last year because it would significantly harm the character and appearance of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the light of this, Taylor also pooh-poohed the proposal.

“Given the previous refusal for development on this site, it's hard to understand why Miss Konta seems intent on destroying this precious habitat."

Image credit | iStock