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CPRE Warwickshire strongly objects to the proposed windfarm at Churchover
Council for the Preservation of Rural England, Warwickshire Branch
41A Smith St
Warwick CV34 4JA
Tel/Fax 01926 494597
Rugby Borough Council 20 February 2014
Rugby CV21 2RR
Attn of: N Lownde
App R12/2009 - Churchover, CV23 0QP
Windfarm of 4 turbines and associated development and access road
CPRE Warwickshire strongly objects to the proposed windfarm at Churchover. We previously objected to the 2011 application in the same location, which was refused. We have the same reasons in principle for objecting to this second application. That Application R/12/2009 has 4 not 9 turbines does not alter the strength of our objection.
Churchover is a rural village which has retained its character by strict planning control despite the building of the M6 motorway and the spread of Rugby up to the motorway. To the north in Leicestershire are the town of Lutterworth and the Magna Park distribution centre (in Harborough District). The landscape between the A5 and the M6 which is unspoiled at present is all the more important because of the expansion of Rugby up to the M6 at Junction 1. Because of these past developments, protection of the intervening area of open countryside is all the more important.
The village of Churchover is wholly a Conservation Area, the Conservation Area boundary being larger than the village boundary defined for development control (see Rugby Local Plan 2006 – Inset Map 11). Conservation Areas which cover a wider area than the village’s extent are unusual and the extent of the Conservation Area emphasises the important of Churchover’s rural character.
The proposed site is on high ground, the High Cross plateau between the Avon valley and the basin of the Soar to the north. At up to 130m OD it is only 10m lower than the highest point in this landscape, the 140m point on Fosse Way south of the historic High Cross crossroads between the Fosse and Watling Street. The area has a general historic value as a crossing point of the original Roman colonisation.
The Warwickshire Landscape Guidelines [WLG - Dunsmore, High Cross Plateau and Mease Lowlands Volume] apply to this location. The more recent Rugby Borough area landscape assessment of 2006 goes into more detail but does not alter the principles of the WLG.
The WLG describe the High Cross plateau as ‘a sparsely populated agricultural region distinguished by wide rolling ridges and valleys and a strong rural character’. Its overall character is defined as ‘A large scale, open rolling landscape characterised by wide views and a strong impression of ‘emptiness’ and space’. The features are:
- A rolling plateau dissected by broad valleys
- A medium to large scale, often poorly defined field pattern
- A sparsely populated landscape of hamlets and isolated manor farmsteads
- Deserted medieval village sites surrounded by extensive areas of ‘empty’ countryside
- Pockets of permanent pasture often with ridge and fiurrow
- Prominent belts of woodland
The Guidelines also state
‘Field pattern tends to be a relatively minor element in this landscape as the eye is naturally drawn to distant skylines rather than foreground views. The impression is particularly noticeable from the Watling Street in the vicinity of High Cross and again around Churchover’ (p18).
The Management strategy and landscape guidelines for planning decisions for the High Cross plateau landscape is set out at pp34-35. The key aims are:
- Maintain and enhance the distinctive historic character of the landscape
- Conserve the historic pattern of large hedged fields, with priority given to strengthening and restoring primary hedgelines
- Conserve the wooded character of mature hedgerow and roadside oaks
- Restocking of plantation ancient woodlands
The proposed windfarm would conflict with the Landscape Guidelines. These give no support to such intrusive and discordant features. The openness and large-scale views that gives the High Cross plateau its fundamental character would be lost over all of its eastern part if wind turbines are permitted at Churchover.
An indication of the impact can be gained from the way in which existing turbines harm the landscape east of Rugby. The Swinford turbines three miles away are at a lower altitude (105-110m OD) but can be seen from a number of viewpoints, and intrude in valuable views in some directions. The proposed Churchover turbines would at be at a higher altitude, would be more intrusive.
CPRE supports the objections made from the locality which analyse impacts in more detail. We support the objections on heritage grounds made by English Heritage and do not therefore repeat those here.
The application should be firmly refused on grounds of harm to the landscape and the setting of the Churchover Conservation Area, and the conflict with the Warwickshire Landscape Guidelines.
M A SULLIVAN
CPRE Warwickshire Branch