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Councillors side with locals to reject 143 homes close to Ringwood nature reserve

COUNCILLORS threw out plans for 143 new homes on the edge of a Ringwood nature reserve that have sparked 500 objections.

The outline application for land off Snails Lane, at Blashford, was considered by New Forest District Council’s planning committee when members rejected advice from their officers to give it the go-ahead in principle.

The scheme by Gladman Developments Ltd was partially proposed on land earmarked for at least 100 homes in NFDC’s Local Plan – a document which sets out how more than 10,000 homes can be built outside the national park by 2036.

The site at Snails Lane
The site at Snails Lane

But it emerged a small section of the proposed development, known as ‘area A’, was not part of the site allocation, and planning officer Richard Natt said the planned access road would lead to “considerable” loss of trees.

He added a small part of the proposal was contrary to policy but overall it met objectives for sustainable development.

For the applicant, Helen Ball said the outline plans laid the foundations for a “high quality development”, adding: “It will also provide 50% affordable housing, which is 72 new homes – delivering dwellings for people and families in real need of a home.”

But opponent Jim Spark said Gladman Developments would sell the site once outline planning consent was secured, so it “could promise the earth without ever having to deliver on it”.

He declared: “There are just too many unknowns which planning officers want to cover under reserved matters behind closed doors without Natural England and other agencies checking over Gladman’s shoulders.”

Cllr Roly Errington, of Ellingham, Harbridge and Ibsley Parish Council, said the scheme was “the worst fate” for the area and totally alien to

its “strong, semi-rural character”.

Cllr Michael Thierry said: “If people power-counted and if democracy has value or meaning inside this council chamber then the application will be dismissed.”

Cllr Malcolm Wade said he was concerned about flooding, saying: “It like trying to build on sand. You can try to mitigate it but ultimately you’ll have a problem.

“The local people are against it. They know that area better than all of us – they have a view and we should be cognisant of that.”

Cllr Sue Bennison stated: “What goes on this site needs to be very special and I don’t think this is special at all.”

But NFDC’s head of planning, Clare Upton-Brown, advised the committee to judge the application on its merits adding: “We will never get to the point where we satisfy everyone because there are some objectors who will object to anything on this site.”

Cllr Arthur Davis said he could not find a reason to refuse permission, adding: “This site might not be the best site but many, many hours have gone into this.

“People need housing.”

After a lengthy debate councillors refused permission by nine votes to six over the loss of trees, the density of the development, the lack of information on nitrate mitigation and the lack of an agreement to guarantee affordable housing.

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