A planning application to build holiday lodges on protected woodland in Bembridge has attracted more than 250 comments.
The applicant’s consultants have branded the ‘organised campaign’ against the plan, for two one-bedroom lodges off Love Lane, ‘bordering on mass hysteria’.
Police called to peaceful protest
Martha James, of Plan Research, said she had taken the ‘unprecedented step’ of writing a letter to the Isle of Wight Council’s planning authority over the behaviour of certain residents.
Police had to be called to a peaceful protest by residents at the site. Residents believed utility work being done to prepare the site was premature as no planning permission has been granted.
Claims of duplicate comments
The vast majority of comments have been left by Bembridge residents — as well as local councillors, Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely, and the Campaign for Protection of Rural England — who are against the lodges.
However, Mrs James said many of the comments are ‘duplicates, based on very similar factual errors’ and the community ‘reaching an unbalanced view of the proposal’.
Potential harm to wildlife disputed
Disputing points about the destruction of woodland and potential harm to wildlife, Mrs James said the point of the scheme was to provide maintenance and create an area of wildlife interest for tourists who would use the lodges as overnight accommodation.
“It is perhaps unfortunate that people who wish to retain the site exactly as it is, in order to provide the particular type of visual amenity they prefer, chose not to purchase the land when it was recently offered for sale on the open market.”
According to planning documents, the lodges have been designed to fit in with the woodland setting, clad in timber and with living moss roofs, ‘directly responding to the constraints of the woodland location’.
Five issues raised by agent acting for residents
Acting on behalf of concerned residents, planning agent David Long, of BCM, said in a letter to the Isle of Wight Council, there were ‘numerous critical considerations and obvious failures’ with the scheme, which overwhelmingly outweighed the benefit of the tourist accommodation.
Mr Long raised five issues with the proposals, including the physical and destructive impact on biodiversity, the failure to protect and enhance and the lack of essential highways infrastructure.
Comments on the application have now closed and the Isle of Wight Council will make the final decision.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may have been made by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © Plan Research – showing the architect’s illustration of the site proposals