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					Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT Objections

Nature Conservation - General

See Appendix D for the list of objections on this matter

Main Issue
 reference to biodiversity

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.1.1 The amendments to the introductory statement and Policy NAT8 in the RDDLP include a number of references to biodiversity within the Borough. In my view these amendments resolve the concerns raised in the objections.

Recommendation
1.13.1.2 No modification be made to the Plan in response to these objections.

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Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT1

Protection of Internationally Important Nature Conservation Sites

Objections
See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issue
 clarity and succinctness

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.2.1 Policy NAT1 seeks to protect internationally important nature conservation sites from development that would have a significant adverse effect on their integrity. The amended policy in the RDDLP responds to earlier objections. In my view it is a significant improvement in terms of its clarity and succinctness and it strikes the right balance between flexibility and control. The additional text proposed by HBF would weaken the policy beyond the flexibility that is advised in PPG9, Annex C. The amended policy allows for the possibility of development on internationally protected sites, but would not permit development that would fundamentally degrade the site in terms of its nature conservation value.

1.13.2.2

Recommendation
1.13.2.3 No modification be made to the Plan in response to these objections.

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NAT2
Objections

Protection of Sites of Special Scientific Interest

See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issue
 compliance with PPG9, paragraph 27

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.3.1 In accordance with Policy NAT2, development would not be permitted if it would adversely affect a proposed or designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). As a result of the amendments made to the Deposit Draft policy and reasoned justification, the policy now rules out development that is likely to adversely affect an SSSI, while the reasoned justification sets down circumstances in which development would be permitted. In my view the amendment to the reasoned justification constitutes policy that is crucial for decision makers in determining proposals for development within SSSIs, and as such it should be included in the policy. The reasoned justification should be modified to include an explanation of the circumstances where material considerations may override nature conservation considerations and the broad nature of the types of conditions that may be imposed. Subject to this modification the policy and reasoned justification would more fully reflect the advice in PPG9.

1.13.3.2

Recommendations
1.13.3.3 (i) Policy NAT2 be modified as follows: `Sites of Special Scientific Interest are identified on the Proposals Map. Development will not be permitted which is likely to adversely affect a designated or proposed Site of Special Scientific Interest, either directly or indirectly, unless: a) the development can be subject to conditions that will prevent damaging impacts on wildlife habitats or important physical features, or b) if other material factors are sufficient to override nature conservation considerations.’ (ii) The reasoned justification for Policy NAT2 be modified by the replacement of the second paragraph with one that explains the circumstances where material considerations might override nature conservation considerations and the types of conditions that might be imposed. No other modification be made to the Plan in response to these objections. 249

(iii)

Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT3 Objections

Key Wildlife Sites

See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issues
 compliance with PPG9  conflicts with the Northern Relief Road proposal (TRP22)  correct definition of the extent of Key Wildlife Sites  conflict with statutory duty under Schedule 9 of the Electricity Act

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.4.1 Policy NAT3 states that development which is likely to damage or destroy directly or indirectly the nature conservation importance of a Key Wildlife Site would not normally be permitted. The sites are defined on the Proposals Map. In my view the policy goes beyond the provisions stated in PPG9, paragraph 18, because it does not take account of the relative importance of the sites concerned. The use of the word `normally’ in the text of the policy also does not help its interpretation or provide any certainty for readers of the Plan. The policy should be re-worded so that it more closely reflects the advice in PPG9, and the reasoned justification should be modified accordingly. A more general policy would protect wildlife and habitats and geological interests generally, including those that are not locally designated, and together with the recommended deletion of Policy NAT6 it would contribute to a more concise, easily understood Plan. In these circumstances it would be appropriate to re-title the policy as `Protection of Other Sites of Nature Conservation or Geological Interest’. Nonetheless, there is merit in retaining the notation for Key Wildlife Sites and Regionally Important Geological Sites on the Proposals Map in order that the Plan is as informative as possible. There is no conflict between the designation of a Key Wildlife Site on the land that is safeguarded for the route of phases two and three of the Northern Relief Road. The continued designation of the site in question is dependent on its nature conservation value only. If the road scheme is implemented at some point in the future, then the designation would be instrumental in weighing up the impact of the development on the wildlife of the area against the benefits that the new road would bring. This is consistent with guidance in PPG9, paragraph 27. The Council has indicated that Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust designates the Key Wildlife Sites. It would not be appropriate to lobby for a wider survey through the Plan and for practical reasons the designations must be based upon the most upto-date information that is available at the time. No modification is required in response to the concern raised in the third issue. 250

1.13.4.2

1.13.4.3

1.13.4.4

Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

1.13.4.5

With regard to the final matter, my recommended modification of the policy would not prevent the National Grid carrying out essential works to its infrastructure in compliance with its statutory duties, and I consider that there is no need to remove the designation from part of the Walham sub-station site.

Recommendations
1.13.4.6 (i) Policy NAT3 be re-titled `Protection of Other Sites of Nature Conservation or Geological Interest' and be replaced by the following wording: `Planning permission will not be granted for development which has an adverse effect on regional or local nature conservation or geological interests unless the importance of the development outweighs the value of the substantive interests present.’ (ii) The reasoned justification for Policy NAT3 be modified by the re-wording of the first sentence as follows: `In addition to nationally important designations such as SSSIs, there are a considerable number of sites of regional or local nature conservation or geological importance, including those designated by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust as Key Wildlife Sites or Regionally Important Geological Sites and indicated on the Proposals Map.’ (ii) No other modification be made to the Plan in response to these objections.

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Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT4 Objections

Protection of Statutory Local Nature Reserves

See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issue
 need for policy

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.5.1 Policy NAT4 presumes against development that would destroy or damage a designated or proposed Local Nature Reserve. The Council agrees that the policy is surplus to requirements and has deleted it from the RDDLP. Policy NAT3 already deals with local nature conservation interests. I concur with the deletion of Policy NAT4.

1.13.5.2

Recommendation
1.13.5.3 No modification be made to the Plan in response to the objection.

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Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT6 Objections

Regionally Important Geological Sites

See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issues
 need for policy  compatibility with PPG9

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.6.1 In accordance with Policy NAT6, development that is likely to damage or destroy, directly or indirectly, the geological interest of regionally important sites would not be permitted. In accordance with my recommendations, Policy NAT3 would be modified to take account of geological interests, other than those designated as SSSIs. On this basis Policy NAT6 would be redundant. The policy and reasoned justification should be deleted.

1.13.6.2

Recommendation
1.13.6.3 The Plan be modified by the deletion of Policy NAT6 and its reasoned justification.

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Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT7

Development Affecting Protected Species

Objections
See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issue
 need for a balanced approach

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.7.1 Policy NAT7 seeks to protect the habitats of protected species from development that might have an adverse effect on them. In response to the objection, I consider that the policy advocates a balanced approach whereby the potential for mitigation is acknowledged. This accords with the statutory requirements for the protection of certain species. The policy therefore reflects the advice in paragraph 47 of PPG9 and no modification is required.

1.13.7.2

Recommendation

1.13.7.3

No modification be made to the Plan in response to the objection.

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Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT8 Objections

Protection of Important Natural Features

See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issues
 need for a balanced approach  historical or archaeological value of environmental features  local, regional and national biodiversity targets  requirement for enhancement

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.8.1 Policy NAT8, as amended in the RDDLP, seeks to protect and enhance biodiversity and important natural features such as marshes, orchards and ponds. The policy allows for development and requires developers to replace lost features. This is a sensible and standard practice and it is a balanced approach to the need for development. No modification is required in respect of the first issue. In my view the term `natural’ is an adequate summary description of the features referred to in the policy. In any event the policy acknowledges that some features have resulted from human activity by the inclusion of terms such as `semi-natural woodlands’ and `semi-natural grasslands’. The proposed term, `environmental features’ has a much wider definition that could be misinterpreted. However, I accept that the reasoned justification would benefit from the insertion of a reference to the historical and archaeological value of such features. The amended policy and reasoned justification in the RDDLP provide much improved policy guidance on biodiversity. But I consider that the reasoned justification should be further expanded to provide background information about the Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan and the implications for development in the Borough. While it should not be necessary to mention the specific targets, more information about the biodiversity context would aid understanding of the wider issues relating to this matter. On the final issue, the Rural White Paper published in November 2000 refers to setting targets for re-creation and enhancement of the main habitats which are being lost, when setting down what will be included in the Biodiversity Strategy for England. In this context it is entirely appropriate for the Council to seek to protect and enhance biodiversity in the Borough, and I note that the policy does not `require’ enhancement of biodiversity. 255

1.13.8.2

1.13.8.3

1.13.8.4

1.13.8.5

Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

Recommendations
1.13.8.6 (i) The reasoned justification for Policy NAT8 be modified by: a) the inclusion of an additional sentence after the second sentence as follows: `They may also have archaeological or historical interest by providing evidence of human activity in the past’, and b) the inclusion of a reference to the Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan, its setting of local biodiversity targets, and their implications for development in the Borough. (ii) No other modification be made to the Plan in response to these objections.

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Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan to 2011: Inspector's Report

NAT10
Objections

Wildlife Corridors

See Appendix D for the list of objections to this policy

Main Issues
 need for stronger policy  conflict with the Northern Relief Road proposal (TRP22)

Inspector's Considerations and Conclusions
1.13.9.1 Policy NAT10 seeks to protect wildlife corridors between existing areas of development and where major new development is proposed. No specific wildlife corridors are designated but the reasoned justification sets down the types of areas that are covered by the policy. In practical terms the policy is only designed to highlight the need for developers and other agencies take wildlife corridors into consideration in their proposals. This also applies to the development of the Northern Relief Road. I do not consider that there is any appropriate means of strengthening the policy, but I have no doubt that its inclusion in the Plan emphasises the importance of wildlife corridors as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. My conclusion in respect of a linked objection to Policy NAT3 is also relevant.

Recommendation
1.13.9.2 No modification be made to the Plan in response to the objection.

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