Saturday, 7 February 2009

Bronpadarn Mansion woods - attempts to protect the woods from developers

For many years CIN members and Llanbadarn Fawr residents have fought to preserve Bronpadarn Mansion woods from a series of building applications from the developers Mr Fenton and ALP Property Management (of 31 Chalybeate Street, Aberystwyth). They continued to regularly put in applications, obviously determined to try and build more houses in the woods and destroy vital green spaces, even though there is plenty of property to rent or buy in and around Aberystwyth.

Images of the woods and environs, showing what a beautiful place it is

As with all images here, click to enlarge

Previous planning applications that had been made included:

Ref No 990653; Erection of a house at Plot 5, Plas Bronpadarn, Llanbadarn Fawr.
Received Date 05/07/1999;
Decision: Refused 19/10/1999.
Applicant Company: ALP Property Management.
Agent company Partneriaeth James Jenkins.

Ref No A010260; Erection of a house with access from Bronpadarn Mansion at Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr.
Received Date 08/03/2001;
Decision: Refused 19/11/2001.
Applicant: ALP Property Management.
Agent company Partneriaeth James Jenkins.

Ref No A061155; Erection of a house & associated works at Land adjacent Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth.
Received Date 22/09/2006;
Decision: Appeal Dismissed 12/06/2007.
Company: ALP Property Management.

Ref No: A071151; Conversion of garage & extension to form dwelling & associated works at Old outbuilding at Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth.
Received Date: 12/10/2007
Applicant: Mr M. Fenton

Unfortunately Ceredigion County Council has now granted Martin Fenton's latest application, and he has already begun building in the woods.

The latest application is No: A080487, ‘Conversion of old garage and extending along part of the footprint of the old greenhouse to form a dwelling, inclusive of forming a new path at Old Outbuilding, extension to form dwelling and associated works, Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth for Mr M Fenton’.

Details of planning permission granted

Unfortunately this will have a huge negative impact on the woods and its wildlife. It will also change the nature from a secluded and peaceful glade to one overlooked by a house with no break between the woods and human settlements. This is an encroachment on the woods and will denature the environment. There is a much more comprehensive list of why this development should not have gone ahead here: it is a compilation of a number of points made in objections to these developments over the years.

On the plus side it is a partial victory for friends of the woods, since this application was less damaging than the original applications.

Nonetheless we have been let down by Ceredigion County Council. It seemed likely they would allow building there all along. Even when a 'site visit' was held the Councillors laughed amongst themselves, and stated that they would discount many of the things people said at the site visit when determining the application. It begs the question as to whether there would have been any way to prevent the County Council allowing this building. Llanbadarn Fawr residents have been let down by all the Councillors - showing what a waste of time most politicians are. If their own homes aren't near the green areas then they don't seem to care whether anyone builds on them.

Work begins - one tree down

Small trees have already been cut down - the process of thinning the wood

Overhanging branches. Likely to be cut back once people move into the new house.
"Gosh! - it can be dark living at the edge of a wood, lets get rid of branches to let more light in..."

Boycott ALP Property Management

We would ask people to boycott ALP Property Management (of 31 Chalybeate Street, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY231HX, Tel:01970 626533) for their ongoing attempts to build in Bronpadarn Mansion Woods. Also for their dishonesty - even though ALP Property Management were listed as the applicants, originally Simon Warburton of ALP property management claimed that they were nothing to do with the application in an email to CIN (31 October 2006). He said:
"I am strongly against any damage to natural beauty such as trees and other (becoming) rare resources. I suggest you get your facts right,legal consequences will prevail"

"We are speaking to the people concerened because it is bang out of order that they have used our company name. My coleague is on the phone to Martin Fenton, the guy who owns ALP construction. He reckons the architect has made a mistake. We're sorting it out now. It can't be a legitimate application if it's got ALP Property Management on it as we don't want to build anything anywhere."
After that ALP never got back in touch, and as the letter below (from five months later) showed, it really was ALP Property Management who were trying to develop the site, despite their claims to the opposite and legal threats in an attempt to get us to remove our negative publicity.

Simon Warburton said ALP Property Management weren't anything to do with the application... But it looks fairly clear to CIN that they were.

We will now give the background to the previous two applications, to show how much work had gone into trying to protect these woods from developers and Ceredigion County Council.

Retrospective on the campaign

19 October 2006: CIN first got involved with application A061155, for land adjacent to Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr. This was the third application to build on this land by Mr Fenton/ALP Property Management - obviously they would just keep applying until they were successful.

Ref No A061155; Erection of a house & associated works at Land adjacent Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth.
Received Date 22/09/2006;
Company: ALP Property Management.

The site plans were only available in Aberaeron, because the Planning Department refuses to make them available online, but basically the proposed development would have covered what is currently natural woodland and a gully with a stream - instead there would be a house and large concrete car park. The proposed development was described as ‘Erection of a house and associated works’, and would be built in the middle of the woods at the top of Penygraig, Llanbadarn Fawr. The development would also have involved moving a public right of way, which is right in the middle of the wood; affect over 50 trees; and involve moving the stream. Many residents were angry at the proposal, preferring their woodland as it was.

Advert in the Cambrian News

Red = area affected by the application

More detail

CIN asked people to write and object to this application, with a formal objection to the Planning Department of Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, and to register concern with Llanbadarn Fawr Community Council, Elin Jones AM, Mark Williams MP, and the county councillor for Padarn ward. Objections flooded in! Numerous individuals forwarded their objections and offers to help; and bodies such as the University of Wales Aberystwyth; Ceredigion Welsh Historic Gardens Trust; and the Ramblers had all apparently objected too.

A particular complaint against the County Council was that they only put up one notice of the proposed development, at one end of the path in the affected area, so many regular users of the woods would never see the notice and know about the planning application.

As part of the objections, the point was first made to Ceredigion County Council that if ALP Property Management were so keen to make money from the land that they would try to ruin beautiful woodland, would it be possible for Ceredigion County Council or Llanbadarn Fawr Community Council to buy the land as a community woodland, in order to preserve it for the future. The National Assembly makes provision for community woodlands. However neither Council chose to act on this.

Monday 13th November 2006: At the Llanbadarn Fawr Community Council meeting the woods in Llanbadarn Fawr were discussed. The council made the following observations:
(i) The Council is concerned as to the effect of the proposed re-routing of the overland water course.
(ii) The additional traffic generated would adversely affect the route to school of the pupils of Cwmpadarn School as there are no pavements and no passing places.
(iii) It should be ensured that the development does not adversely affect the footpath to Lluest.
(iv) The many mature and rare trees in the vicinity should be protected.
(v) Any development should conform with the conservation status of the area and any new build should not detract from this status.
The council agreed to formally object to the proposed development, for which we were grateful, even though the community council has no powers to influence planning decisions other than to make observations.

Thursday 16 November 2006: The Cambrian News included a short piece on the proposed development (page 3). Unfortunately it accepted at face value the misleading comments made by the few supporters of the proposed development. In the piece Martin Fenton (the man behind the proposal to despoil the woods) said that "there will be no loss of trees as a result of this development". However anyone going to the wood could see that - unless the proposal was actually for toy cars and doll's houses - there was no room for a luxury house and twelve parking spaces. And the focus just on trees was disingenuous anyway - what about the undergrowth, the bushes and plants, the soil structure, the wildlife, the insects, the peace and quiet? When places for new plant growth become concreted over and inhabited permanently by families and cars, wildlife can't establish there, and there is a terminal decline. The small ecosystem is lost, and with it the vital wildlife corridor, creating more isolated pockets that are themselves then in danger of decline and are less suitable for life. Martin Fenton does not really care about trees and wildlife and green spaces. He is a developer with a construction company. Just ask yourself whether the two go together.

The article implied that the proposed car park was a sweetener to 'ease traffic congestion'. However it would not have been a sweetener - it would instead have left a bitter taste for residents, since it would encourage MORE traffic up an unsuitable lane. The school should be discouraging cars, not encouraging them. Ben Davies, and anyone else involved in trying to encourage more traffic to go up the lane, should be ashamed - by wanting to build a car park in the woods at the top they were going to make the lane a more dangerous place for the children and residents who walk or cycle along it. Offering 'sweeteners' to the school in the form of a carpark was wrong. A commercial carpark (as no doubt Martin Fenton planned to rent to the school) should not form part of a planning application for a residence anyway - the whole 'inducement' was morally questionable.

A further consideration - if the car park really was intended for the school, why was there no mention of it at all in the planning application? And why would the headmaster of Ysgol Cwmpadarn say that he knew nothing off the proposal when he was asked at that time? At the end of the day, Martin Fenton and ALP Property Management are determined to make money, regardless of the environment.

Thursday 23 November 2006: Many people wrote letters to the Cambrian News following their 16 November article, and THREE letters were published (p25) objecting to the proposed development (and none supporting it), which showed the strength of feeling on this issue. The letters were titled: 'Sweetener will leave bitter taste for residents'; 'Community as a whole is against the redevelopment of Bronpadarn woods'; 'Animals and birds will be homeless'.

26 Nov 06: John Evans of the planning department said that the planning application for the development at Bronpadarn Mansion would have to be re-advertised due to the land being on a public rights of way, delaying a decision. In the meantime new notices were erected so that residents were aware of this situation, and would have more time to object to this new application if they wished. There was some concern at first that it meant that people would have to object again - if so a lot of people would be very angry at being messed around, after having already written letters objecting to that land being built on. However, thankfully it turned out that wasn't the case. John Evans said "the fact that the application has to be re-advertised is purely a procedural matter. Any representations already made will be taken into account, there is no need for people to re-state their objections."

2 Dec 06: At the Ceredigion Green Party meeting there was a unanimous vote to support the campaign to save the woods.

21 Feb 2007: Objectors received letters from the County Council, saying that the Applicant, ALP Property Management, had appealed on the basis of 'Non Determination' and that the process was now being conducted by the Planning Inspectorate of the Welsh Assembly Government.

A very dubious twist was that correspondence received from ALP Property Management stated that they had nothing to do with the application, and the appeal was from ALP Construction Ltd, and that they were different companies and it was just a coincidence that the names were similar (see the call for a boycott of ALP Property Management nearer teh top fo this page). However on further investigation it was discovered that the address for both ALP Property Management and ALP Construction were the same. This confusion over who was actually applying for planning permissions added to the mismanagement of the process.

25 March 2007: In their newsletter for March 2007, Paul James and Gareth Davies say (of this proposed development): "We are well aware that there are strong objections to this application, not only from local residents but from the Community Council, Ceredigion's Highways department, and conservationists due to the historical nature of the site." Also the Department of Highways, Properties and Works (Ceredigion County council) recommended refusal of the proposed development.

12 May 2007: The determination of the appeal lodged by ALP, to be determined by the WAG Inspectorate in Cardiff, had still not been determined. An inspector had been appointed and the closing date for objections and observations was the 24th April 2007. The result of the Inspector's deliberations were not expected to be made known until the end of May at the earliest, and probably not until mid-June. Once the decision was made, there would be no further appeal as the applicants had already used this process by appealing to the WAG for non-determination by Ceredigion County Council.

The Development Control Committee of Ceredigion County Council did discuss the application at their meeting on the 11th April. They just discussed how they would have determined the application had they retained the jurisdiction over the application. The recommendation of the officers was that the application be refused and this was supported by the Development Control Committee.

16 May 2007: We got a mention in the 'GAG Newsletter' [Greener Aberystwyth Group / Grwp Aberystwyth Gwyrddach], issue 1, December 2006. It mentioned the application to build in Bronpadarn Woods, and pointed out the substantial implications for owls, bats and the abundant wildlife currently enjoyed by the many people who use the right of way there. The same issue also noted that:
'for every 10% by which a town increases its green space provision, its inhabitants become on average five years younger in health terms'; and 'children who walk to school through greenery are less likely to suffer mental health problems, or suffer from bullying at school'; and 'sick people recover more quickly when they can see trees and gardens'.
All these facts are confirmed by a newly created government agency, Natural England.

A photo of the woods (taken 11 April 2007) showing the carpet of flowers in the wood. A beautiful sight (and site!) that needs protecting from unscrupulous developers.

17 June 2007: A decision was made - the appeal was rejected! At the time we thought that meant the woods were safe, but as has been seen, that was not the case, since there was nothing to stop Mr Fenton from keep submitting applications until one got through - which is exactly what he did. Still, at the time the information that the planning application for Bronpadarn Mansion woods had been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate in Cardiff was a cause for celebration. A group of over 20 local neighbours met in the woods for tea and cakes to celebrate - it was a really great informal gathering with a wonderful community spirit.

Gwynedd Thomas BA(Hons) DMS MRTPI wrote the appeal decision, and really summed up the issues well, we are all very grateful to her for the depth and consideration with which she looked into the matter. She referred to the woods as 'a pleasant sylvan glade' and 'a natural and peaceful haven on the edge of the built up area'. The appeal decision is really well worded and may also help with other situations like this in the future, since it mentions all the pertinent considerations and policies in one place.

15 October 2007: Application A071151 first makes an unwanted appearance.

Ref No: A071151; Conversion of garage & extension to form dwelling & associated works at Old outbuilding at Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth.
Received Date: 12/10/2007
Applicant: Mr M. Fenton

The horrible yellow signs to watch out for

At first it seemed innocuous - and because it isn't possible to view the plans without going to Aberaeron many people may be put off looking into it further. A further confusion was that the application was not included on the Council's list of planning applications; when a question was asked about this the Ceredigion County Council Planning Liaison Officer, said:
"The above application is not on the weekly list as it is not a valid application. Further information is required before the application can be considered."

"We are in the process of changing our procedure regarding applications requiring bat surveys. At present though, the date shown on the existing notice does apply. After saying that though, we often accept comments/objections after the date shown."
However, although it was not listed and was not a valid application, the deadline for objections of 29 November 2007 still applied (probably).

Nonetheless, some local people saw the plans and found out more. The application was for a house and car park. It would involve demolishing and building over the Victorian glasshouse remains. According to the application, no trees would be affected but given the proximity of trees to the greenhouses - some lean right over this area - it seemed inevitable that they would be affected. Additionally, an area of extensive decking was proposed right up to the footpath and level with the 'greenhouse' extension. Decking in a wooded area becomes lethal as it is practically always wet - so we wouldn't be surprised if subsequent owners then tried to replace this with something else. The decking would be quite intrusive into the gulley area.

The house location would also adversely affect the whole feel of the Dingle and the public footpath as it will be in a very prominant position. It could also lead to further felling of trees in future years as the house will be dark because of the size of the existing trees in the Dingle.

A further interesting point was that this application had been made by Mr Martin Fenton in his own name and not in the name of the company ALP Property Management, which he usually chooses. The local suspicion was because in their appeal of their last application, ALP Property Management said that they were committed to restoring the glasshouses and other garden features - the very ones that would be destroyed by this development. But Mr Fenton is behind both applications, and this complete reversal - from an application that included an element of preservation of the glasshouses, to another shortly after which would build over them - shows that what is put onto an application in an attempt to get it passed is not always to be believed.

Sunday 18 November 2007: CIN asked people to object to this application. Many residents and locals groups had already done so - the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, Ceredigion Branch had done an excellent job of summarising many of the dangers of this application.

Friday 1 August 2008: Local residents got suspicious when they had not heard of a decision being made, and that is when a saga begins... The Council was contacted about this and an email was received which stated "I would advise that the application is still active and has not been determined although it appears that it has now been superseded by application A80487."
At this stage there was no information on when the deadline for submitting comments was, and nobody had received any paperwork relating to this application. There was no sign displayed publicly on the intended site in the woods either.

On Saturday 21 June 2008 a standard letter was received from the Council, referring to the new application AO80487.

Ref No: A080487, ‘Conversion of old garage and extending along part of the footprint of the old greenhouse to form a dwelling, inclusive of forming a new path at Old Outbuilding, extension to form dwelling and associated works, Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth for Mr M Fenton’
Nowhere in the letter did it state that the previous application had been withdrawn. Furthermore, it stated that there were only 14 days available in which to submit comments, which would have meant responses in by 2nd July. Yet at this stage there was no display board on the site, and the public advert for the application was not going to in the Cambrian News until half way through these 14 days, on 26th June.

To compound the problems of misinformation and lack of information, a letter from the Council dated 30th June was received by local residents stating that an application had been withdrawn. The application was stated as:

“Conversion of garage & extension to form dwelling & associated works” at “Old outbuilding at Bronpadarn Mansion, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth”

The reference number was not in a very visible place, and after speaking to other locals it transpired that most people thought it referred to the more recent one that they had just heard about, as the letter regarding the new application (18th June) was the only piece of paper they’d had from the Council in over 6 months.

It was only on double checking the Application Numbers carefully, and the EXACT wording of the two applications, was it clear that the ‘Withdrawn’ letter of 30th June referred to the older November 07 application.

Allowing the applicant to use very similar wording has added to the confusion. Many locals assumed that the new application had been withdrawn and that there was no need to object, and therefore did not do so, even though they would have done if they had realised what was going on. Especially as there was STILL no public sign displayed on site.

This is the sort of confusion that has taken place because of the inept handling of the whole planning application by the Planning Office. In addition, the online interactive mapping tool for looking at plans is not at a sufficient scale to enable someone to find the right information. Because the applicant for all these plans puts in roughly one plan for this site every year there are too many red lines on the one area. One resident found that the interactive mapping tool was not displaying the most recent plans so they could not obtain more information that way.

As many people work full time, they cannot easily get to Aberaeron to see the plans, especially as they are only viewable in reduced work hours, Monday to Friday. The Council has been requested again and again to either scan the plans and put them online, or makes copies
and make them available in other Council offices, or, even better, in all the public libraries in Ceredigion. So the specific elements that one might criticise the Planning Department for are:

1) No reply was received to an email sent to the Planning office in May 2008.
2) Council took over six months to fail to make a decision on original application AO71151.
3) Council sent letters in the wrong order, so people assumed the Withdrawn letter applied to the most recent application, especially as it was over 6 months since the original application.
4) The Council letter regarding the new application (AO80487) stated people had only 14 days to make representation – however, the real deadline was actually a fortnight after this date.
5) Information about the real deadline for responses was not given in any official letter to local residents.
6) The Council letter regarding the new application made no reference to the fact that the new application was replacing a previous one, or that the previous one was either still active or was being withdrawn. The lack of information led to confusion.
7) The Council allowed the Applicant to put in a second application with almost identical wording, leading to further confusion.
8) No public sign was displayed on site until early July, weeks after the application for AO80487 had been made.
9) Plans for the application are held only in one town in Ceredigion, with inconvenient viewing hours. Anyone working full-time will never be able to view the plans.
10) If an application that people objected to was superceded without resolving the first application, why didn't the council inform the people who had responded to A071151? It is obvious that local residents had a strong objection to development in those woods, so should have been informed.

This sort of confusion, misinformation and lack of information is hindering local people from being interested and involved in what happens in their local area.

Wednesday 10 September 2008: It had been quite a saga. The developer withdrew his last application, then submitted another one. The Council managed to make a mess of all the paperwork and many people thought that the very newest one had been withdrawn, so did not object. On this date the latest application (A080487) was on the agenda of the Development Control Committee meeting. The planning officer in charge of this application, Owain Davies, was recommending it FOR APPROVAL. The document can be seen here. Local residents felt let down by the County Council (again).

Shortly afterwards it was announced that the Development Control Committee would hold a Site Inspection Panel for this application. Local residents saw that as a chance for everyone who cared about the woods and wanted to prevent any more development nearby to turn up and make that clear to the council.

Images of the woods Wednesday 10 September 2008

The stream

The nearby glasshouses (1) - once a peaceful boundary between the woods and houses

The nearby glasshouses (2)

The nearby glasshouses (3)

Friday 26 September 2008: the Development Control Committee held a Site Inspection Panel for this application in the woods at 9.30am.

Details of the inspection

A map of the inspection location, and where the woods are

Unfortunately a time had been chosen when most people would be at work. Despite this there was a great turnout from local residents and the Chair of the Greener Aberystwyth Group - almost twenty people (and one dog!) turned up to voice their objections to developments in the woods, a last chance to try and prevent any encroachment of buildings into this sylvan glade. Many people made excellent and impassioned points for the inspection panel to consider. Unfortunately there was a definite feeling among many residents that the County Council had already made its mind up on the issue, and was going to allow the development take place anyway. The council representatives refused to take into account some of the valid points made.

For example, the inspection was within a few feet of the van which had been seen tipping rubbish into the ravine and stream nearby - a van belonging to the workers hired by the applicant, Mr Fenton. It was also only a few feet away from a wall where the foliage had been burnt off rather than cut back so that wall repairs could be made - which then harmed the trees above. Again, that was done by the workers Mr Fenton had hired. It was also only a few feet away from the historic glasshouses that the applicant had promised to renovate in the past, then failed to do so. So how could anyone take the claims to be respectful to the local environment (made in the application) seriously?

The councillors joked amongst themselves as if this was not a serious issue for local residents. They also gave the impression that they didn't really care what the objectors thought - something that was soon to be found to be true when they granted planning permission

16 October 08: See the scan below from the Cambrian News, 16 Oct 08, p6. As residents suspected, the council looked likely to allow this development despite all the opposition.

26 October 08: Greener Aberystwyth Group included the site inspection in their latest newsletter.

9 January 08: Ceredigion County Council allows the latest planning application to build in the woods, AO80487.

Protecting the land for the future?

Back in June 2007 many locals were wondering how they could try and protect the woods on a more permanent basis as a community woodland - as well as the wildlife there are other things in those woods worth protecting such as the five remaining glasshouses; the panoramic walk around the lands; the Dingle; the trees e.g. Ginkgo Biloba; the coping capped walls; the arched stone Victorian culvert. Mr Fenton would obviously not donate the woods to a local community group though. Information about community woodland groups was investigated via sites such as:

Forestry Commission Wales
Woodland Trust
Woods Under Threat
Woodland Project
BBC - Breathing Places

In the long run the ideal situation would be for our councils - Llanbadarn Fawr Community Council and Ceredigion County Council - to purchase this land to preserve it as a community and wildlife woodland. It already is a de facto community and natural space, but not de jure (i.e. recognised by law). It is unfair that developers can keep submitting applications and objectors have to object each time - even when the grounds for objection are the same.

The current system is frustrating, in that Mr Fenton can just keep submitting applications year on year (in some cases before previous ones have even been resolved), and residents have to object every single time, despite having made it clear in the past that they do not want extra houses in those woods. People will get worn down by the constant applications and stop objecting in the end.

Ceredigion County Council Planning Department have been asked how these woods can be permanently protected from development, and have never replied to that question (e.g. they were contacted in both May and June 2008).

The fact that Ceredigion County Council completely ignore questions like this shows that they are on the side of developers, and are against protecting the natural environment. All that would have been required would be for the Council to make clear that no developments will be allowed in this important woodland and community resource. Even better would be for them to then purchase the land for the local community, perhaps in conjunction with Cwmpadarn School who could use it as part of environmental education.

The other option is Tree Preservation Orders [TPOs]. A TPO is to protect trees for the public's enjoyment. It is made for the 'amenity' of the tree or woodland, and this can include its nature conservation value but more often means its visual amenity. There are four types of TPO, although any one Order can contain any number of items which can be of one or more types. The types are as follows:
Individual: can be applied to an individual tree.
Group: can be applied to a group of individual trees which, together, make up a feature of amenity value but which separately might not.
Area: a type of TPO not normally made now but still common, as formerly this type was used frequently. It covers all trees in a defined area at the time the order was made.
Woodland: covers all trees within a woodland area regardless of how old they are.
A full guide to TPOs can be found here.

If the planning department were to do this to help protect the environment from future housing and car park developments then the local residents have stated that they would be willing to set up a formal group to regularly maintain and tidy the woods, collecting litter and so on. Unfortunately, since the Council has not even replied to communications on this issue, we can't count on the Council to take any constructive actions.

General tips on objecting to planning applications

  • See here for tips on objecting. Also see advice from the Woodland Trust. Planning Aid Wales (PAW) may also be of interest - it is a registered charity which provides free professional and independent advice and support on all aspects of land use planning in Wales by using a Wales-wide network of volunteers who are all qualified planners. PAW provides a telephone helpline service that gives advice on individual planning cases. This service is available to anybody, individuals and groups, who can not afford a planning consultant. PAW's main aim is to enable community groups to participate effectively in the planning system. If you want to learn how to get your voice heard in decisions about your your local area, PAW development workers can help organise talks and seminars for your group local group.
  • Many people think 'spoiled view' or 'reduction in property value', and 'noise, dirt and disturbance during construction', are among their best reasons for objecting. WRONG! In deciding whether to Approve or Refuse a Planning Application the Planning Officer cannot accept any of these reasons as valid planning objections, no matter how true they may be. This is the same throughout the UK. Most applications are refused for only one or two valid reasons.
  • Once a planning application has been registered by the local planning authority it can be inspected at the planning department office. A planning casework officer is appointed to process the case. He or she should be accessible either by telephone or in the planning office but this might need to be by prior appointment as caseloads can be very high.
  • Feel free to lobby councillors on the planning committee. In Britain, you are entitled to learn the name and address of the councillors on the planning committee and there is nothing to stop you from lobbying these councillors in writing, collectively or individually in the three day period prior to committee, particularly if you think that the casework officer has failed to include valid information in the report. They will listen to your views but will not be allowed to express an opinion in advance of the meeting to consider the application. (If they did so they might be disqualified from speaking or voting on the issue in committee.)
  • Consider contacting the Community and County councillors for the area in which the application is located at an earlier stage (these councillors may not be members of the planning committee). Do not assume that when a councillor apparently supports your objection that he / she will automatically maintain this support throughout the planning process.
  • When objecting make your letter as personal as possible; add your own experiences and views.

Wildlife depends on the woods for survival.
Humans depend on them as a breathing space.
As green areas disappear, these spaces are even more important.
We must protect them from development.

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