Villagers fight Trust plan to buy historic cottage
Campaigners have launched a petition opposing the sale of a historic cottage to the National Trust.
Residents in Ulverscroft are against the plans for Stoneywell Cottage, near Markfield, which was built by Leicester-born architect Ernest Gimson for his elder brother, Sydney, and wife Jeanie, in 1898.
The National Trust is in discussions with the Gimson family about buying the property and if it goes ahead, it would open the grade II*-listed home up to the public by February 2014.
It is also planning to build a visitors' car park between Whitcrofts Lane and Priory Lane, and install a ticket office, coffee shop and toilets at the site.
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However, members of the Ulverscroft Residents' Committee say that if the site is made public it will create more traffic and noise and attract about 225 people a day to their small village in peak season.
So far, they have gathered about 50 signatures opposing the plans.
Steve Perry, chairman of the Ulverscroft Residents' Committee, said: "Traffic is already a huge problem in the area. The lanes are narrow and not designed to take a lot of vehicles. About three weeks ago, we had a near-fatal crash when a motorbike was in a collision with a car.
"This is a rural part of Leicestershire and the council would move heaven and Earth to make sure residents couldn't do anything to disrupt the environment. But the National Trust wants to build a car park on a field and it seems like they'll be given the green light. It flies in the face of everything the National Trust stands for."
The group has created a website with information about the project and plans to hang banners in the village.
Fellow campaigner Jackie Trudgill, who lives next door to the cottage, said: "We are totally opposed to the proposed purchase by the National Trust to turn it into a tourist attraction.
"The numbers of visitors a year they are proposing in their correspondence is staggering and unwelcome in such a quiet and private rural area."
The National Trust said it expected the car park would attract an average of about 35 cars at any one time, rising to about 75 at peak times – which it says would be about 20 days every year.
National Trust spokesman Stuart Alcock said: "The trust is very aware of the potential impact our acquisition of Stoneywell and opening it to the public may have.
"From the outset, we have tried to keep residents informed of our plans, listening to views and concerns and addressing these as far as is reasonably possible."
Mr Alcock said the charity would control the number of visitors by operating a pre-booking only system of admission.
A planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted next year, following the successful sale of the cottage.
To visit the campaign website or to sign the petition, visit: