The old cricket pitch

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The old cricket pitch

Late yesterday afternoon I had a meeting with a young woman from Wiltshire Council’s Countryside Team to discuss the future of our POS – Public Open Space – on the eastern side of Devizes.

Many years ago this space was the regimental cricket pitch for the army based at Le Marchant Barracks. When we first came to live in our new home, in the late 1980s, the derelict cricket pavilion was still standing – approximately where the hazel bushes are on the left of the photo.

The Crown/MoD owned most of the land around which was being sold to developers but the cricket pitch was protected under the local long term plan as POS. That didn’t stop the developers from attempting a greedy land grab by submitting plans for 90 houses on the cricket pitch and it took a huge campaign to make sure the plans were overturned by a council planning meeting.

Once the dust had settled after that, the council – Kennet District Council – came up with an excellent solution of halving the area into a close-mown area for play and a wild, nature area which would, with the right management, become a glorious wildflower meadow. Between the two they sited an adventure playground.

So, in 1996, the Le Marchant Conservation Area was born and nearly 1000 trees and shrubs were planted around the edges.

The recent local government changes in Wiltshire means Kennet DC are no more and so it was with great relief I finally met someone from Wiltshire Council who understands how good the conservation area could be, what needs doing and who could help.

And I’m still proud of the fact that those 90 houses were never built.

PS The ‘castle’ on the right hand side of the photo is The Keep. A Victorian folly tower which guarded the entrance to Le Marchant barracks.

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