Asking for action at Seymour Drive

Asking for action at Seymour Drive
Main image
Google Earth image dated June 2022 showing the land to the north of Seymour Drive

Last Thursday the Society’s Planning Lead emailed South Hams District Council officers, Councillors and Dartmouth Town Council demanding the ongoing saga at Seymour Drive in Dartmouth should be brought to an end.

The story begins back at the end of the last century, in February 1999, when South Hams District Council permitted the construction of a temporary access track across land at the northern end of Seymour Drive in Dartmouth. When a nearby development was concluded that land was then meant to be returned to an 'area of open grassland accessible to the public in the interests of the visual and residential amenities of the locality’.

However that planning condition has never been complied with and any attempts by the Council to enforce compliance have failed.

After the development concluded at the turn of the century the land remained for many years untouched, and had "re-wilded" to such and extent that the entire area was basically a locked nature reserve full of wildlife.

Then, on 8 and 9 December 2018, the chainsaws arrived. Trees that had grown were felled without a licence and although both the Forestry Commission and DEFRA felt there was a case to answer, the CPS chose not to prosecute, concluding "it was not in the public interest to pursue a case”.

Since then the desecration has continued and the Google Earth image above, which dates from 2022, clearly shows damaged land.

But on May 15 the land was once more sprayed with weedkiller, an outcome that will yet again prove devastating to both biodiversity and the health and wellbeing of local residents.

In an attempt to raise awareness and bring pressure to bear the Society posted to our Facebook page on both the Friday and the Saturday. And both posts were quickly shared by the administrator of the Dartmouth News & Support Sharing UK page to the Group’s 7,000 members, one of whom, Ward Councillor Jonathan Hawkins commented: “I have written to Officers at SHDC to see how they can acquire this land for public use as it was originally intended… To replant it, and make it a place safe for residents and wildlife.”

In his email our Planning Lead had asked why, rather than to continue to try and pursue enforcement, it would not be more prudent for the district council to simply compulsorily purchase the land at its value as amenity land, so saving money in the long run and bring an end to this unfortunate saga.

Could it be Cllr Hawkins has taken his advice on board?

Other images
Photo taken on May 16, the day after the site was sprayed with weedkiller
Photo taken two weeks later on May 30, the damage is already beginning to show