Day 2 of Red Court Inquiry and you couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

Or, to be more exact. The residents of Haslemere are anxious that they will see new homes through the trees.

As Redwood’s appeal lumbers on into its second day before Inspector Helen Hockenhull – there was much ado about trees, hedgerows and the proximity of the Red Court, Scotland Lane site to the South Downs National Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The AONB designation is currently under review, and the nearby residents want the site included to ensure maximum protection and keep developers out.

But that review has not been concluded, so developers are keen to ensure that the Government inspector hearing submissions was not misled.

The height of the trees, the density of the trees and their maturity and contribution to the landscape went under the microscope throughout the day.  There were also a couple of references to the Japanese Knotweed that infests the site.

The fact that Red Court land had been included in Waverley’s Local Plan Part 2 for more than three years was dismissed by opponents of the development for the 50 new homes proposed.   The site was only recently dropped from the council’s LP2, its list of allocated housing sites, and in its place, substituted The Royal School in Haslemere.

Waverley’ planning defence was caught between a rock and a hard place as Redwood’s barrister Heather Sargeant referred them to Waverley officers’ recent recommendation to the council’s planning committee that approval is granted for the scheme. Following an acrimonious political debate, councillors refused it back in July.

Officers had repeatedly claimed that the benefit of building both market and affordable homes on the site would outweigh any harm. There was no loss of ancient woodland, and future landscaping to mitigate the loss of one mature tree Grade A tree could be covered later by conditions.

The main thrust of arguments against the development was based on whether improving a buffer along Scotland Lane was acceptable.

According to the resident’s landscape witness Mrs Christine Marsh, if the development proposed went ahead on the paddocks, the new homes could be viewed from Scotland Lane when looking between the tree trunks. However,  she maintained that planting or thickening the buffer was also unacceptable as passers-by couldn’t view the paddocks beyond. A site she described as “wild and tranquil.”

She said the residents of Scotland Close and Chiltern Close would also be able to “glimpse” the tops of the new roofs from their homes for at least ten years until any new trees had matured. By which time, would then filter the view.

The Inquiry continues.

Before the day’s deliberations began, Portfolio Holder for ~Planning Andy MacLeod asked the ~Inspector if she would agree to keep the webcast on the council’s website. You can view it here.















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