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Rushmere St Andrew: Charities’ revised housing application for ‘commemorative wood’ at The Street meets with renewed opposition

PUBLISHED: 09:00 04 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:52 05 September 2014

The commemorative woodland at Rushmere St Andrew

The commemorative woodland at Rushmere St Andrew

Archant

Revised plans submitted on behalf of a consortium of charities to build housing on an area of “commemorative woodland” have met with renewed opposition.

An application for land behind The Street, Rushmere St Andrew, was first submitted in December but was withdrawn earlier this year following fierce objections. Concerns were raised about the erosion of the village boundary and the loss of woodland, some of which was said to have been planted in memory of loved ones.

The charities behind the application were also accused of going against the environmental preservation purposes of the former landowner, who had bequeathed the site to them in her will.

Brooke Smith Planning, which represents the charities, however, has insisted the criticism is unfounded and claims the development, carried out in an “environmentally-sensitive and responsible way”, does not breach the will.

Its revised application features changes to access and the inclusion of four affordable units, however it has been met with much of the same criticism as before.

Barbara Robinson, who contested the previous application as a member of Save Our Country Spaces, spoke of her renewed concerns at Rushmere St Andrew Parish Council’s meeting on Monday night.

“I would contest that the information that’s being submitted is inaccurate and makes serious errors, which I think may render the whole application void if it proceeds,” she said.

Nick Burden felt the development would put “immense strain” on the local infrastructure and suggested the site could be better used as an “educational resource” for children.

Parish clerk Mel Bentley told councillors the proposed site was outside the village boundary and contravened planning policy, which prohibits development near Rushmere Street, in recognition “of the visual importance of the open spaces”.

But councillor Ron Nunn supported the application, saying he thought the layout of the site “looked absolutely superb”.

A spokesman for the developers, speaking after the meeting, confirmed there has been a tree survey and environmental assessment carried out and stressed that the loss of woodland “will be minimal”.

The spokesman has also claimed the criticisms about the village boundary and planning policies are not valid.

“The application meets an acknowledged important and pressing need for more housing, including affordable housing, which although not welcomed by everyone, is an important consideration,” he added.

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