Agenda and draft minutes
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To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 21 September 2022.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2022 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any personal, disclosable pecuniary or other registrable interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.
Councillors Howard Woollaston and Adrian Abbs declared that they had been lobbied in relation to Agenda Item 4(1).
Schedule of Planning Applications
(Note: The Chairman, with the consent of the Committee, reserves the right to alter the order of business on this agenda based on public interest and participation in individual applications).
Councillor Howard Woollaston (Ward Member) declared that he had been lobbied by the applicant for Agenda Item 4(1). He also stated that while he was predisposed to reject the officer recommendation of refusal, he had not predetermined the application. He would listen to the debate with an open mind and vote accordingly.
Councillor Adrian Abbs declared that he had been lobbied by members of the public in relation to Agenda Item 4(1).
1. The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 4(1)) concerning Planning Application 21/01097/COMIND in respect of the proposed construction of woodchip surfaced gallop with rails and associated landscaping, and mitigation planning (part retrospective) on land at New Barn Farm, Wantage Road, Lambourn.
2. Cheyanne Kirby, Senior Planning Officer, introduced the report to Members, which took account of all the relevant policy considerations and other material planning considerations. In conclusion the report recommended that planning permission be refused for the reasons listed in the main and update reports.
3. Phil Lomax, Council Ecologist, made the following comments on the application:
· The main ecology issue with the application was the proposed loss of woodland priority habitat. Mitigation measures and conditions largely resolved other ecological concerns.
· Priority habitats were identified, by the Secretary of State, as being of principal importance for ecological diversity. This was in line with the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (the Act).
· The Act included a duty to restore or enhance habitats. The Council’s Core Strategy also contained a policy to prevent harm from development to such habitats. Development in these cases should only be permitted if there were no reasonable alternatives and the benefits of a scheme clearly outweighed safeguarding requirements of a habitat. Compensation and mitigation should be offered/made available.
· Mr Lomax noted that an area of priority woodland had already been cleared and so this was a retrospective consideration. To align with the requirements of the Act, the cleared area could be restored.
· A restocking notice had been served by the Forestry Commission and this placed a duty on the land owner to restock trees that had been felled without the required licence. Restocked trees would need to be maintained for a ten year period. Enforcement action could take place if this was not complied with. Any further felling of trees would be contrary to the notice.
· The notice should be considered as a material planning consideration and, as a result of the notice, the Committee could consider the land as still being woodland.
· It was understood that the landowner had appealed the notice but this could take some time before it was resolved.
· Compensation planting had been proposed (aside from the requirements of the Forestry Commission). This had been proposed for land within a Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Such schemes were legally binding with conditions attached and had financial incentives for landowners to keep the land for the benefit of wildlife.
· Mr Lomax concluded by stating that the Committee needed to consider if the mitigation and compensation proposed were acceptable.