Natural England advice proves decisive

An inspector rejected proposals to redevelop a hairdressing premises with a shop and two flats in a Hampshire city after following Natural England advice that waste water from the development must not be allowed to threaten European protected habitats.

On the main issue of the effect of the development on internationally important mudflats, shingle and saltmarshes providing essential feeding and roosting habitats for overwintering birds, the inspector noted recent Natural England advice stating that high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients from waste water were resulting in dense mats of green algae and causing harm to protected habitats and bird species, and that new development should be nutrient neutral.

The inspector acknowledged the previous hairdressing use would have used a great deal of water but did not consider it would have had a greater impact on nutrient neutrality than the proposed development. In his opinion, whilst not a major development in scale, the proposal would have more impact in terms of the nutrient issue. In the absence of suitable mitigation techniques, which were not yet sufficiently evolved for small developments, the inspector decided it was not certain that the scheme would not adversely affect the integrity of international habitat designations and dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Steven Rennie; Written representations

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