There was much ado about trees when Thakeham Homes branched out to identify tree, landscaping and planting issues with ‘Your Waverley’s tree experts.
It was Day 2 of a Public Inquiry before Government Inspector Harold Stevens to hear an appeal by Thakeham Homes and The Merchant Seaman’s War Memorial Society against the refusal of Waverley planners to build 99 homes on land off Loxwood Road.
To gain access into the agricultural land from Loxwood Rd, Alfold Crossways, the developer needs to demolish a bungalow called Hollyoak appropriately because it has a 100-year old oak tree in its garden. The Holly and the oak must go to make way for the development of homes that include s30% affordable.
A Tree ~Preservation Order protected the oak tree gained earlier this year because of its importance in the street scene. However, the developers claim it was a cynical act after permission was refused to stop the development from going ahead.
Landscaping and tree experts waxed lyrical all day on the importance of landscaping, particularly where a proposed new development would back onto many bungalow homes on Loxwood Road. Waverley’s expert witness aptly named Mr Field said that any development on an open field would have a “high, substantial and major, adverse” impact on the Crossways – particularly viewing it from The Alfold Sports Club and Grounds, two public footpaths, and properties nearby.
Mr Field accepted that Thakeham’s updated planting plan improved its original scheme.
Thakeham argued that it would be planting 198 new trees, some of which would be “large canopied trees”, some of which would be ten years old, and in 15 years, they would mitigate much of the harm and shield soften the view.
Thakeham’s lawyers referred to Waverley’s emerging Local Plan Part 2 (Strategic Policy on Sites), which he claimed included proposed development sites elsewhere in the borough. These included development in Areas of Great Landscape Value and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“Alfold has non of these categories, does it? It is not in the Green Belt, AONB, AGLV, South Downs National Park, Godalming Hills?”
He also referred to other successful appeals in Alfold Village granted on appeal where successive Inspectors had given little weight to landscaping and visual amenity concerns, saying there would be only limited harm. This included Brockhurst Farm, Dunsfold Road, Sweeters Copse, Loxwood Road phases one and two, Wyevale Garden Centre.
Mr Field maintained that the intrinsic value and beauty of the appeal site must and should be safeguarded. Development there would have a dramatic and damaging effect on that part of Alfold Crossways. Homes built on the agricultural land valued countryside, which would change its character forever.
The Inquiry continues.