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Tennis star Konta faces opposition over house proposal near Winnie-the-Pooh wood

The 27-year-old had a previous application to build a new house at the edge of Ashdown Forest turned down.

Johanna Konta had a previous application turned down (Ian West/PA)
Johanna Konta had a previous application turned down (Ian West/PA)

Tennis star Johanna Konta is facing opposition over a second attempt to build a new house in the grounds of her property at the edge of Ashdown Forest – the setting for Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood.

The 27-year-old had a previous application to build a new house at the site in Wych Cross, Forest Row, East Sussex, turned down by Wealden District Council because it was deemed to be “significantly detrimental and harmful to the character and appearance of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.

The Woodland Trust is objecting to the sportswoman’s new application to demolish an existing building and construct a four-bedroomed one-and-a-half storey house, claiming it would destroy part of an “irreplaceable habitat” of ancient woodland.

The charity also suggests the application would contravene new planning guidance published by the Government last month.

Under the new National Planning Policy Framework, ancient woodland has been given the highest level of protection, meaning local authorities in England should now refuse development that is not considered “wholly exceptional” if it will result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats.

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

“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.”

Mr Taylor added: “Given the previous refusal for development on this site, it’s hard to understand why Miss Konta seems intent on destroying this precious habitat.”

He said the site was likely to support common dormice, reptiles, breeding birds and a wide range of insects, fungi, mosses and ground flora.

Mr Taylor explained that ancient woodland was defined as land that had been continuously wooded since at least 1600 and it covers just 2% of the UK.

Author AA Milne set his Winnie-the-Pooh adventures in Ashdown Forest after he used to watch his son Christopher Robin have adventures with his toys in the woods.

A Wealden District Council spokesman said: “No decision has been made. It’s being looked at and we are getting consultee responses.”

Ms Konta’s agent, Vicky Brook, of Octagon, said: “Johanna is competing in the US Open Series and will not be commenting.”

Press Association


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