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What if you could save a 534-year-old piece of history? Well, you can.

Sign the Petition

Imagine there was a delicate, fragile, but beautifully preserved medieval jewel. It’s yours to enjoy whenever you want and to pass on to your children. Now suppose someone comes along and says they want a piece. They’ll snap it off the side and give the rest back, then you can go on looking at it, but it will always have a piece missing; a jagged edge and a noticeable chunk gone forever. And you’ve got to explain the damage to your children when you pass it on.

That is precisely what is happening at the site of the 1485 Battle of Bosworth, an event that altered the course of English and British history. The autumn of 2018 was a rollercoaster shock to the system. Within days of the Battle of Bosworth Festival Weekend, the news broke that Japanese technology firm Horiba MIRA had submitted a planning application to build a driverless car test track that would encroach onto the registered battlefield site. It seemed impossible that it would be approved, but we watched on, campaigned and screamed in vain as it slid through Hinckley and Bosworth’s planning committee with only a minimal bump; the opposition of a few councillors who were quickly removed from the committee. You can read a bit more about the meeting and the controversy here and here.

Anyway, despite the opposition of the Battlefields Trust, the Richard III Society and a petition that gathered over 15,000 supporters, it was given the go ahead. The formal, written permission was issued on the night of the meeting, which not only prevented an appeal but demonstrated that the decision had been made before the committee even sat down. Presented with a frustratingly smug fait accompli, concerned parties and individuals were left horrified at the impending destruction of the battlefield and the frightening precedent such a move sets for other heritage sites across the country.

Much was made of the minimal area to be affected, but it is the spot on the battlefield that current interpretations give as the approach route and muster point for Henry Tudor’s army. It is in the area where the largest cluster of medieval cannon balls ever found was discovered, and will be built over at least one of the find spots. So, although in percentage terms it represents a small amount of the registered battlefield, it is in the very place at which current thinking places most of the fighting. It might be small, but it is critical.

 

RegisteredBosworthBattlefieldSite_Overlay_WithGroundshot.jpg

The outline of the proposed development can be seen in red on the western side of the registered battlefield. The red line and arrow shows the route it is believed Henry Tudor took to the battlefield and the area where his army was arrayed for battle. The red circles mark cannon ball finds and the area where much of the fighting is now believed to have taken place.

 

At the recent local elections, control of Hinckley and Bosworth Council changed to the Liberal Democrats, and it was their councillors who had opposed the approval of the plans. This offers a glimmer of hope for a more sympathetic ear, but it still seemed like a done deal that could not be unravelled.

But it isn’t.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 permits the revocation of planning permission after it has been granted and up until such time as the development is entirely completed. Section 97(1) states that ‘If it appears to the local planning authority that it is expedient to revoke or modify any permission to develop land granted on an application made under this Part, the authority may by order revoke or modify the permission to such extent as they consider expedient.’ Section 97(3a) explains that the power may be exercised ‘where the permission relates to the carrying out of building or other operations, at any time before those operations have been completed’. You can read the Act here and a parliamentary briefing on the revocation of planning permission here.

Bosworth Battlefield can still be saved, for this generation and all those that follow. There is a petition on the government’s website asking that this statutory power be used to revoke the planning permission granted at Bosworth. Unfortunately, it can only be signed by UK residents, because this is a matter of international importance that has caused outrage around the globe. If you are eligible, I ask you to sign the petition and help try to preserve this precious medieval jewel. Ask your friends and family to add their weight to the request. At 10,000 signatures, the government is required to respond. At the very least, they will then have to explain why they will not save this precious landscape. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons. This might represent our last chance to make it clear to the government and local planning committees everywhere that the destruction of our heritage is too high a price to pay.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/261339

Bosworth Petition Poster 190617

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