Impact on ancient woodland cited in new home refusal

A new dwelling in open countryside in West Sussex has been refused for its unsustainable location, visually harmful urbanising effect on the countryside and potentially harmful impact on an adjoining ancient woodland.

In terms of the ancient woodland adjoining the site, the inspector referred to paragraph 175 of the NPPF and the council’s policy requiring a minimum buffer zone of 15 metres between any ancient woodland and development boundaries. She noted that in this appeal, half of the width of the proposed house would lie within the 15-metre buffer zone as well as part of the access and the parking area.

The council’s stated purpose of the buffer zone was to prevent adverse impact on the woodland relating to air, light, noise and water run-off pollution, soil disturbance, non-native species invasion and loss of seed base. The appellant had argued that the single dwelling use of the site would limit air pollution, the number of vehicles using it would be less than that of its former use as a nursery and other concerns could be controlled by conditions such as restricting permitted development rights and external lighting. But the inspector considered such measures would be insufficient to alleviate her concerns about the impact on the biodiversity of the woodland as opposed to individual trees. She opined that the lack of the retention of a buffer zone between the proposed boundary of the property and the ancient woodland could result in non-native species migration into the woodland and possible soil and seed disturbance. The inspector concluded a precautionary approach was necessary and as insufficient evidence had been provided to clearly demonstrate no harm to the biodiversity of the woodland, she concluded this aspect contributed to the dismissal of the scheme overall.

Inspector: Nicola Davies; Written representations

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