Smithy Wood dates back to at least 1200AD. It is an Ancient Woodland with some very beautiful and irreplaceable old trees. It lies adjacent to the M1 Motorway at Junction 35 with Cowley Hill. When you are in the Woodland it is so peaceful that you would never know that you were so near a main road.
Local people have used the woodland for recreation for well over 20 years, either frequently or less frequently, and still use it today, hopefully for many years to come. There are several paths crossing the woodland and the area is partly enclosed, although the fencing has not been maintained in many places. There is a fence separating the edges from the motorway and the rest is wooden fencing, which goes part way down Cowley Hill. There is the remnant of a gatepost, but no gate, where the fence ends. The rest of the woodland is not enclosed and there are no notices to say that this is private land.
Below the woodland there is now a business park where Smithy Wood Coking Plant was situated until 1972. When the coking plant was working the workers often spent their break times wandering the woodland. Today many local people use the woodland for leisure. The questionnaires from local residents tell how they played in the woods as children, hide and seek, building dens, nature trails, bug hunts, bike riding, bark rubbing and tracking, at all times of the year. They now have their own children and grandchildren who they take to Smithy Wood for exactly the same pursuits and would like to continue doing so. There are some local walking groups who use the woodland and some horse riders as well as local dog walkers. Many speak about the peace and tranquility that they find there. One lady went there after a bereavement exactly for that reason.
There are questionnaires from local families and letters or emails from other families, out of a locality of approximately 200.They have all, except three, used the land for at least 20 years, some of them since being children in the 1950’s and still use it today. I believe this is a significant amount of local residents who are all passionate about keeping this woodland for future enjoyment. They have never been stopped from using the land. Local residents are particularly passionate about Smithy Wood, because tens of thousands of trees have been felled at Hesley Wood, on the other side of Cowley Hill, after planning permission was given last January, for a company to open cast mine there. Our group was formed to fight that planning submission because we are all nature lovers. The spoil heap had regenerated for 40 years and had an abundance of wildlife.
We were told by the planners that wildlife from Hesley Woods would move to the adjacent woodland. Many of the birds, most noticeably three buzzards, now circle over Smithy Wood. We need to protect the wildlife that lives there so that no more of their habitat is lost in our area. Please help us to protect this irreplaceable, Ancient Woodland of Smithy Wood from any future development by granting our request to make Smithy Wood our village green, so that it will be there for future generations to enjoy.