National Trust outcry over Wiltshire park fence plan for private tenant | The national trust

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For years the hilly landscape of Dinton Park has been a favorite haunt for dog walkers, runners, and tranquility seekers. When it snows, the kids sled down Toboggan Hill and during Covid lockdowns, it has become a place of comfort and reflection. There is a beloved view of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral, which appears to hover above the trees nine miles away.

But a decision by the National Trust to rent out the Greek Revival Philipps house in the heart of the estate and, more importantly for landscape lovers, to fence off much of the park to give the new tenant privacy has sparked an uproar.

Critics say the movement goes against one of the association’s central tenets: that beautiful open spaces should be available for everyone. To make matters worse, the rumor circulating in the village of Dinton is that the great old Wiltshire house could be taken over by a rave and party organizer for the rich and famous, which could drastically change the mood of the Park.

Peter Glossop, with his dogs Bumble and Purdy, in Dinton, Wiltshire. Photograph: Sam Frost / The Guardian

“It’s an evil freedom,” said Peter Glossop as he walked his Labradors Purdy and Bumble around the park. “We hear that an A-lister might be on his way and he doesn’t want people looking at him. The National Trust has been too inactive to keep the house in good repair and now a huge public good is being wiped out. “

Jemma Phipps, an artist who walks her whippets Clover and Pansy in the park, said it was a magical place. “Love the view of Salisbury Cathedral. People have been watching it from here since the 14the century. It feels like a rare and precious landscape.

Helen Strachan said her seven-year-old daughter Lexi loved the “wellness walks” the local school runs through the grounds. She joined the National Trust to support places like Dinton Park. “For so many people, it is a peaceful and picturesque sanctuary,” she said.

Jemma Phipps with his whippets Clover and Pansy, in Dinton Park, Wiltshire.
Jemma Phipps with his whippets Clover and Pansy, in Dinton Park, Wiltshire. Photograph: Sam Frost / The Guardian

The National Trust said the last tenants moved in 2015 and since then it has explored how best to protect the house.

A spokesperson said: “After a long and careful review, the charity has decided that the best way forward is to lease the property to a third party who can take care of it in a way that will secure its future and will make the financial commitment necessary to repair and restore it.

“The charity recognizes how much the park is valued by the local community and is committed to maintaining access. However, the park boundary is close to the front of Philipps House and the charity is proposing to adjust the boundaries and fence lines in areas adjacent to the house itself to provide a greater degree of privacy.

Walkers in Dinton Park, Wiltshire, with a view of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral behind them.
Walkers in Dinton Park, Wiltshire, with a view of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral behind them. Photograph: Sam Frost / The Guardian

He said the proposal called for 110 acres of parkland and woodland to remain open to the public and for 31 acres to be available “for private use” by the tenant.

Dinton Parish Council wrote an objection letter saying the proposals left villagers feeling “distressed and upset.” He wrote that the loss of walks, benches and views was “not acceptable”, adding: “The view from the spire of the cathedral must be safeguarded”.

He cited the founder of the Trust Octavia Hill, who championed the protection of open spaces, but “most importantly” supported the principle to allow them to be open to all.

South West Wiltshire MP Andrew Murrison accused Confidence of acting “like 18e earthly century with the intention of hunting the public to maximize value and preserve their own privacy ”.

He said that profitable properties such as Stourhead in Wiltshire should subsidize less lucrative properties like Dinton. “And if they don’t want to run the place for the local community anymore, they should let someone else run it.”

Murrison, who led a Westminster debate on the National Trust last year I reported another charity property, the birthplace of Northumberland railroad pioneer George Stephenson, which has been closed since 2017 due to what the charity describes as “rising costs and falling visitors.” He said this should also be subsidized by the money the trust earns from larger “treasure” properties.

Steve Marsh, who suffers from chronic lung disease, said walking his dog Poppy in Dinton Park, Wiltshire, was
Steve Marsh, who suffers from chronic lung disease, said walking his dog Poppy in Dinton Park, Wiltshire, was “his salvation.” Photograph: Sam Frost / The Guardian

Murrison said next month’s annual trust meeting would likely be an “explosive” affair, with the trust’s finances closely watched. More than 1,700 employees have been made redundant as part of its Covid “reset” program. But his reserves have swelled to over £ 400million.

Steve Marsh, 57, was walking his Staffordshire bull terrier, Poppy, in the section of Dinton Park likely to be fenced, said he was deeply upset about losing part of a place he cherishes . He has back pain and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Walking in this place is my salvation,” he said.



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