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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: 'No' to 18-home estate on horse paddocks

A boundary-breaching plan to turn horse paddocks into an estate for 18 new homes in the Forest of Dean has been thrown out by planners.

In December, Derbyshire developers JR Planning and Development, through Hereford-based agent Tomkins Thomas Planning, asked Forest of Dean District Council for full planning permission for 18 houses, with associated works that include a new access, open space and landscaping.

The proposed site relates to a 1.2 hectare parcel of land east of Church Road, immediate bordering the village of Longhope. After the bid went to FoDDC's Development Management Committee, it was thrown out yesterday (March 20th).

In its report, the committee said that a single point of access was proposed off Church Road and added: "The majority of the dwellings are proposed to front onto the new access road. A large area of public open space with specimen planting is proposed within the northern section... An ecological buffer zone is proposed along the eastern boundary... adjacent to Longhope Brook."

The bid, which included seven affordable homes, also proposed a new play area for the village, while the density of the site, currently used as grazing for horses, was calculated at 15 dwellings per hectare.

The report added: "The site is outside of, but adjacent to the settlement boundary of Longhope. The whole of the site is within the Conservation Area of Longhope. The vast majority of the site is within Flood Zone 1; a small section along the eastern boundary of the site is within Flood Zones 2 and 3. The northern boundary of the site adjoins an Important Open Area that surrounds the Grade II* listed All Saints Church.

"There are also a number of monuments within the grounds of the Church that are individually Grade II listed. There is also a cross within the grounds of the Church which is designated as an Ancient Monument. There is a public right of way that crosses through the graveyard adjacent to the Church and then heads east immediately adjacent to the northern point of the site. The whole of the site is classified as grade 3 agricultural land (good to moderate quality agricultural land)."

The report went on to conclude that the bid conformed to the local Development Plan, and that it "provides a true mix of market housing in a sustainable location where there is demonstrable need for such development. The scheme also includes seven affordable housing units which is a significant benefit of the scheme."

However, a long list of considerations, many echoed by objections lodged by immediate neighbours to the scheme, included: school and GP capacity, increased traffic, a failure to comply with Neighbour Development Plan or Council Policy, the bid being outside the development boundary, the impact on the listed nearby All Saints church and recent flooding to the gardens of adjacent properties.

Furthermore, a housing survey carried out by the parish in 2020 identified a need "but this has been accomplished with the 12 houses being built along Church Road".

Natural England also flagged its concern, stating that it "could have potential significant effects on the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat Special Areas of Conservation."

The decision will come as a relief to Longhope Parish Council, which voiced “strong” objection to the scheme.

Parish clerk April Seabrook told FoDDC: “There are concerns relating to the impact the build would have on the listed Church building, drainage which would affect the brook further on up the village which has flooded in recent storms.”

She added: “A member of the public also commented on the impact this build would have on the wildlife in the area, especially bats and this has been reflected in recent work done within the listed church. The site is also not a rural exception site, so is not required and the recent development on that part of Church Road still has 12 houses which have not been sold. So therefore, the housing needs of the village have been met.”

Longhope Parish Council chair Jackie Barker told that the parish would await any possible relaunch of a bid on the land, but that she had no comment on the parish council’s views. Ms Barker added: “There is always local reaction to such bids.”

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