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Churchover Parish Council Objection (2015)
Churchover Parish Council has now submitted its hugely compelling, detailed objection which demolishes McAlpine/RES's application in planning requirement terms.
This important objection representing the view of the local community in Churchover builds on its previous strong objection but importantly makes reference to changes and differences relevant to this latest application by McAlpine/RES.
Below is an executive summary of the objection:
SUMMARY GROUNDS OF OBJECTION
The proposed development would have an unacceptable visual impact upon residents, walkers and other users of the village and the immediate rural environment. The turbines would be as little as 960m from individual village dwellings, and the whole of the village lies within 1260m. Houses at Greens Close (8 dwellings in total) would be especially badly affected.
The visual amenity of dwellings beyond the village and parish boundaries would also beseverely damaged, including the closest dwelling, Streetfield Cottage at 657m distance.
The applicant acknowledges that the most relevant viewpoints would experience “Largescale effect, major alteration to character, fundamental change” and this is unacceptable,even more so upon a Conservation Area and Listed Buildings and their settings.
As such the development would fail to comply with NPPF, Saved Rugby Borough Local Plan saved policies GP2 and GP5 and Rugby Core Strategy 2011, Spatial Vision, Spatial Vision 11 and policy CS14.
The proposed development would fail to protect and enhance the historic environment orthe countryside, destroying the setting of listed buildings and in particular Holy Trinity, by dwarfing its 25m spire with 126.5m turbines within 1100m. A unique and particularly compelling importance attaches to maintaining the peace and tranquillity of the surroundings and the quality of views to, from and of churches that are religiously, socially, architecturally, historically or visually important to the community.
It is also noted that English Heritage/Historic England rejects completely the development,on the grounds that the harm, although less than substantial, is at the upper end of less than substantial. The Court of Appeal in Barnwell Manor judged that it is wrong to treat “less than substantial harm to the setting of the listed building as a less than substantialobjection to planning permission.”
As such, it would fail to comply with the Planning (Listed Buildings & ConservationAreas) Act 1990 s.66 and ss.69-73; NPPF; PPS5 Planning for the Historic Environment 2010 (Practice Guide); Saved Rugby Borough Local Plan policies GP2and GP5; and Rugby Core Strategy 2011 Spatial Vision, Chapter 6 and policy CS14.
The development would produce an unacceptable change in the immediate landscape of the village and the hitherto unspoiled Swift Valley. It would exceed the landscape capacity ofthe area as assessed independently by the White report (adopted by the Borough Councilas material to planning decisions) of 2011 and its review in 2013.
As such, the development would be contrary to NPPF; Saved Rugby Borough Local Plan policies GP2 and GP5; and Rugby Core Strategy 2011 Spatial Vision, Spatial Vision 11 and policy CS14.
Other environmental impacts
The impacts on public rights of way will be unacceptable, turbines being as close as 30m from PROWs and oversailing them. Other peaceful enjoyment of the countryside will be interfered with or prevented, including equestrianism and angling.
The “temporary” nature of the development, 25 years, is illusory, cannot be ensured and is therefore not a material planning consideration (and that argument has been rejected bythe Secretary of State). Indeed, RES admit as much saying that after 25 years they will do no more than consider removing, but also replacing or refurbishing the turbines. The worst case development is therefore permanent.
In the Asfordby, Leicestershire windfarm appeal decision (March 2014), although employment and renewable energy benefits were identified, the Secretary of State additionally recognised that the proposal would harm the landscape, despite the proposal not being permanent, and have harmful recreational and amenity effects. The Secretary of State agreed with his inspector that within the valley setting the wind farm would dominate the views of walkers and riders and interfere with people’s enjoyment of public rights of way with a real risk from 5 turbines being within topple distance. Exactly the same is trueat Churchover.
The planning balance
Overall, and in the light of latest Ministerial guidance and appeal decisions regarding the balance and weight to be afforded to landscape and heritage impacts, Churchover Parish Council concludes that the need for the development is minimal to non-existent and is clearly outweighed by its major adverse environmental impacts identified both by the Parish Council below and by Statutory Consultees, notably English Heritage/Historic England. The direction of travel of planning policy is to cede ultimate power of decision tothe community (not the LPA) which, here, overwhelmingly rejects the proposed development. As such, planning permission should be refused in terms of current development plan policy, and bearing in mind emerging policy changes.