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Blanksmill Creek Under Threat
Many people in the South Hams are worried about a proposal to build an industrial-sized storage building in a very prominent position, high above the water’s edge, on the bankside, at the head of Blanksmill Creek close by the bridge on the Old Coach Road Malborough.
The planned store would overlook the beautiful, iconic and unspoiled creek, in the heart of the nationally protected South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It would be widely visible from the world-renowned Salcombe and Kingsbridge Estuary, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and also an area of protected coastline, where building is strictly restricted by planning law.
The owner of the 6.13 hectares on which the 18 m x 12 m x 6.1 m high store could be built currently farms in Hereford and proposes to store a tractor, baler, hedge trimmer, topper, roller, harrow and various other agricultural implements which are currently stored offsite from the relatively smallholding at Blanksmill.
The local team looking after the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have written to South Hams District Council lodging “a formal holding objection to the planning application”. They have also raised serious concerns about the plan. They “question the need for the proposed building located in the undeveloped coast policy area in order to manage a landholding of just 6.13 hectares”. They are also “very concerned about the visual impact of this size of building within this setting”. Just like the South Hams Society, the AONB Unit’s primary concern “is to conserve the special setting and ecology of this estuary” which is threatened by the proposed store development.
The South Hams Society believes the development represents an unwelcome intrusion into an open field countryside location within the South Devon ANOB and undeveloped coast. It would introduce a built form within this highly protected, sensitive rural and estuary location, which would result in adverse impacts to the natural beauty, special qualities, distinctive character, landscape and scenic beauty of the Area.
Many in the local community use the footpaths and bridleways that allow public access and enjoyment of the countryside and shores around the creek. And for those who know about the fascinating history of the lime kiln on the North shore (and the other 26 kilns dotted around the Salcombe and Kingsbridge Estuary) the Blanksmill kiln’s unchanged setting in the landscape would, sadly, be diminished by the visual harm caused by the proposed storage building, which would dominate the area’s unspoiled landscape.
The development would not conserve and enhance the natural beauty and special qualities of the Creek and it would conflict with the aims and objectives of the Council’s policies DEV23 (Landscape character), DEV24 (Undeveloped coast and Heritage Coast) and DEV25 (Nationally protected landscapes) of the adopted JLP and is contrary to the guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework at paragraphs 170 and 172.
The proposed site is adjacent to the Salcombe and Kingsbridge Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest. Blanksmill Creek is also particularly important for the birdlife of the Estuary. Bird numbers are already under massive pressure from the effects farming practices and climate change. The South Hams Society and its members do not believe that there would be any public benefit stemming from the proposal to build a storage building above the creek and so have asked the Council to refuse planning permission.
The Society has asked its members and friends to write to the Planning Officer before the 10th January and object to this damaging proposal.
You can write and send an objection to the proposed development very simply via the Council’s online comments portal at: SHDC Planning Comments
The full Council Planning File for the Planning Application is available here Blanksmill Planning File
If you do not have access to the internet, you can use the self-service computers at all South Hams and West Devon Council Offices. Council staff can help you use the Planning pages of our websites if you need assistance to view applications and make comments electronically.
Material planning matters only please!
Here are a few examples of material planning matters you could write about. Please select those issues which are important to you and personalised them with your own words. Simply reproducing a ‘template’ letter will carry little or no weight with the Planning Officer or the Councillors, who must consider only the material* objections to the planning application.
1. The Blanksmill store development is an unwelcome intrusion into an undeveloped open field countryside location that would harm the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and undeveloped coast – which are both nationally protected by planning law.
2. It would place a building in a highly protected, sensitive rural and estuary location, which would result in adverse visual impacts to the natural beauty, special qualities, distinctive character of the landscape and scenic beauty of the protected South Devon AONB.
3. The development would fail to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and special qualities of the South Devon AONB.
4. Building is restricted and should not take place in the Undeveloped Coastal Area except in exceptional circumstances.
5. The proposed site is adjacent to the Salcombe and Kingsbridge Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest and the bird haven of Blanksmill Creek.
6. It would harm the visual setting of the close by 19th C historic lime kiln on the North shore of the Creek.
7. We do not believe that there would be any public benefit stemming from the proposal.
8. The Applicants have failed to convincingly justify a rational agricultural need for a store and the AONB team question the need for the proposed building located in the undeveloped coast policy area in order to manage such a small landholding of just 6.13 hectares.
9. The AONB team are also very concerned about the visual impact of this size of building within the protected landscape in the creek and estuary setting.
10 The applicant does not appear to have considered at all the visual impact on the views from the Estuary by the thousands of local and visiting leisure boat crews or other water users.
11. The area around the proposed site is visited by photographers, walkers, painters, dog walkers, fishermen (and women), bird watchers and all those who love the see the open countryside and enjoy the wide, uninterrupted panoramic views of the beautiful Deep South Hams.
12. There are concerns about the potential for the creek to be contaminated by runoff from the store’s roof and yard hardstanding.
13. The proposal conflicts with the aims and objectives of policies DEV23 (Landscape character), DEV24 (Undeveloped coast and Heritage Coast) and DEV25 (Nationally protected landscapes) of the adopted JLP and is contrary to the guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework including, but not limited to, paragraphs 170 and 172.
Here is the South Hams Society’s Letter of Representation to the South Hams District Council Planning Department
Here are the full details of the Planning Application – Planning Application Ref: 3911/19/FUL – Applicant Name: Mr D Watkins
Description: Application for general purpose agricultural building – Address: Land at Blanksmill Old Coach Road Malborough Kingsbridge TQ7 3BL – Application Date: 28 November 2019 Officer Name: Bryony Hanlon
Ian Bryan, For and on behalf off the South Hams Society