Questions over status of woodland refused for homes
PUBLISHED: 10:15 26 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:04 26 May 2018
Questions have been asked over why land refused for a 300-home development was designated as part of a county wildlife site.
In June 2017, Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) was refused planning permission for the new homes on Racecourse Plantation in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich.
It has since appealed the decision, with an ecologist representing the developers questioning an area of the site’s designation as a county wildlife site.
Giving his evidence on the fourth day of a six-day planning inquiry, Tim Goodwin argued sections of woodland were more suited to be managed as heath and did not have sufficient quality for the county wildlife site status.
However Harriet Townsend, cross-examining for Broadland District Council, argued Mr Goodwin had not taken into account that the land was designated as such in local plans when making his judgment. Prior in the inquiry, Broadland District Council’s witnesses gave evidence to support the original decision to decline to application.
David White gave ecological evidence on behalf of the council, while planning officers Paul Harris and Charles Judson also gave evidence and were cross-examined by Chris Katkowski, for SCC. The development, had it been approved, would have resulted in the loss of 10 hectares of woodland off Plumstead Road East.
However, the district council’s planning officers turned down the application under delegated authority - meaning it did not even make it before committee.
Mr Goodwin also argued the benefits of the development would outweigh the loss of woodland and that some of the land would benefit from “targeted management” as heath. In the original application, SCC proposed to create a 150-acre woodland park, which would be handed to the community. On refusing the application in June, the council’s head of planning Phil Courtier said: “The current application will reduce the extent of semi-natural habitats of county value, will result in indirect adverse effects on other adjacent areas of the woodland, and will increase habitat fragmentation with the western section of the woodlands becoming isolated.”
The inquiry continues next week and is expected to conclude on Thursday, May 31.
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