WOODLAND FELLING AT SEYMOUR DRIVE – A NATIONAL SCANDAL

WOODLAND FELLING AT SEYMOUR DRIVE – A NATIONAL SCANDAL

YOU CAN HELP

Seymour Drive is a residential area sited on a hill above the picturesque seaside town of Dartmouth in South Devon. It lies outside the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) but is certainly visible from it. In 1999, planning permission was given to a housing developer to build there.

North of Seymour Drive was an area of woodland. The important woodland had an ongoing function associated with the residential area to its south. It provided visual screening and ‘edge softening’ for it. This planning condition was to be maintained ‘in perpetuity’. Later the land, on which the woodland stood, was sold.

During the weekend of December 8th to 9th 2018, local residents report that mature trees in the woodland north of them were being systematically felled, apparently on the instructions of the current landowner, Mr. David Holloway.  The land was cleared daily from 27th December through to the 4th January.

Local residents were horrified and made contact with the authorities and the press. The tree felling was reported to the Devon & Cornwall Wildlife Crime Unit, the Tree Officer at South Hams District Council, and the Forestry Commission. The matter was also referred to DEFRA for investigation and widely reported in the local and national press and the local MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston,  raised the case in Parliament.

 

Reasons for believing the Seymour Drive woodland felling is unlawful:

  • This area of woodland was planted as a condition of previous planning approvals (ref: 15/1790/98/F and 15/0078/99/F)Its planting was funded by a grant from the Woodland Trust as part of the “Dartmouth Gateway” scheme
  • The woodland was intended to be adopted/managed by SHDC, but unfortunately, this did not take effect
  • The site is a designated woodland area on OS Maps and a designated green space in the local community
  • It is also an Environmental Improvement Zone
  • The former woodland provided a wildlife corridor which also contained many species (some of them protected) including slow worm, badgers, hedgehogs, crickets, foxes, bats, many bird species including birds of prey
  • The site is also part of a wider RSPB Cirl Bunting Consultation Zone
  • In relation to any application to build houses on the cleared site, the area is outside the Dartmouth Development Area and is not earmarked as a development site in the Joint Local Plan. No additional housing is required in Dartmouth since other schemes (e.g. the West Dart Scheme) allow for sufficient housing over the coming 5-10yrs.

 

The planning background

First planning application:  In March 2019, the landowner submitted a Planning Application to South Hams District Council to build nine 3 bedroomed houses (Ref: 0852/19/FUL). The Tree Survey and Ecology Report for the site were both written after the tree felling and consequent devastation of the woodland and wildlife.

Not surprisingly dozens of local residents wrote letters of objection to SHDC. Dartmouth Town Council and Dittisham Parish Council also voted to oppose this application. Permission to build the nine houses was refused by SHDC.

Since that refusal, the landowner has put in three further applications in quick succession:

Second planning application:  Submitted on 15th August, ref. 2853/19/FUL. Dittisham Parish Council and Dartmouth Town Council both voted to object. Nine houses are  proposed. The closing date for comments is officially 20th September 2019 but they may still be accepted after this date. Application online at

http://apps.southhams.gov.uk/PlanningSearchMVC/Home/Details/192583

 

Third planning application:  Submitted on 5th September, for five houses with parking. Application online at

http://apps.southhams.gov.uk/PlanningSearchMVC/Home/Details/192844

Closing date for comments online:  18th October 2019

 

Fourth planning application:  Submitted on 13th September, for an amenity play area.  Application online at

http://apps.southhams.gov.uk/PlanningSearchMVC/Home/Details/192871

Closing date for comments online:  18th October 2019

Only the landowner knows his motivation for submitting multiple planning applications containing such varying proposals and plans. SHDC’s Planning Department will have to consider each one on its merits. Anyone wishing to object to (or support) any of the applications will need to respond to each one separately.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT THE RESIDENTS AT SEYMOUR DRIVE 

If, like us, you are appalled by what has gone on at Seymour Drive and, particularly, the destruction of a protected woodland area, please act by COMMENTING on these latest planning applications. Simply click on the links (or copy and paste the link into your browser) to enter the SHDC Planning portal and register your views online.

For our simple guide to writing a letter of objection, please see the South Hams Society website ‘Planning Guide’.

 

Here is the SHDC Information on how to comment on a Planning Application

 

WE NEED TO SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE TO DEVELOPERS THAT THEY ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT 

 

 

 

 

 

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