Uncertain fate for wildlife site in Burgh le Marsh

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News

An uncertain fate awaits a valuable wildlife site on the edge of Burgh le Marsh.

A proposal to build nine homes at Sunshine Fields, off Wildshed Lane, has put at risk meadowland and an historic hedgerow - a home to warblers and other songbirds.

If it goes ahead, the project proposed by John Allen and Patricia Cust, could also lead to an application to Lincolnshire County Council to divert a well-used footpath.

At an East Lindsey planning meeting on Thursday, Coun Susan Blackburn and Coun Side Dennis both supported the application because they felt it would help meet a need for new homes.

However, Coun Terry Aldridge voiced misgivings about the ‘rural character’ of this part of Burgh being compromised - a view shared by Coun Tom Ashton and Coun David Buckley who both noted that there had been a strong objection from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust to the prospective loss of habitat .

The applicant’s agent, Paul Diluce Brown responded that the LWT was not a statutory consultee and that its comments ‘carry little weight in planning terms’.

The committee was split six-six but subsequently voted to defer the matter to give the applicant the opportunity to revise the scheme - possibly in a way that safeguards the hedgerow and an ancient oak tree.

Earlier, head of planning Chris Panton described the hedgerow as ‘really important’ and said its loss would be ‘regrettable’.

He went on to warn that seeking to divert the route of the footpath could ‘create loads of legal and other problems’ for which reason it was a measure he would not recommend to the applicant..

Earlier, the council’s case officer, Jane Baker, recommended refusal of the application because of the ‘important’ wildlife value of the site.

In her report, she reminded the committee that nationally planning policy ‘requires’ local councils to conserve and enhance biodiversity.

She continued: “If significant harm cannot be avoided, then planning permission should be refused.”

Ward representative Coun Neil Cooper, who is chairman of ELDC’s planning committee, said he had ‘no issue’ with the application.

Reiterating that the LWT was not a statutory consultee, he said it was up to councillors to decide what weight should be given to the organisation’s comments.