Flats approved close to protection area

A proposal for 14 apartments has been allowed at a site in Berkshire after an inspector ruled that it would not undermine the nature conservation importance of the Thames Basin Heaths special protection area (SPA)

The site lay less than 5km from a common designated as a site of special scientific interest and forming part of the SPA. With the council's support, Natural England had raised concerns about the potential impact of increased population on the SPA through more walking, picnicking, motorcycling, camping and barbecues on the common.

The appellants had submitted a unilateral undertaking banning the flats' occupants from keeping dogs and promising that a management company would ensure that leaseholders complied with this. The inspector judged that these measures would be effective. Occupants' cats would be unlikely to predate on wildlife on the common because of the intervening distance, he reasoned.

He also took into account the availability of suitable alternative areas of open land including Windsor Great Park, a nearby forest and recreational facilities at Ascot racecourse. In his opinion, these locations significantly reduced the risk that future occupiers would use the common for recreation to an excessive and harmful degree.

DCS Number 100-050-554

Inspector David Jenkins; Inquiry.

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