This in from Cllr Seely, in his own words. Ed
The National Planning Inspectorate has today (Weds) upheld a decision to block a controversial development on the Isle of Wight’s Heritage coastline.
Cllr Bob Seely, whose ward covers the remote Atherfield Bay site and who campaigned against the intrusive development, said he was delighted.
“This is the right decision. We need to keep the Island as a special place to live and visit, so development has to be sensitive and enhance our Island. This detracted from it.”
The Council’s Planning Department initially supported the development. However, at a heated Planning Committee meeting on 18 February 2014 councillors were persuaded by local residents and Cllr Seely to overrule the Planning Department and vote against it.
Some 64 residents – almost all the people living within the immediate vicinity of the Atherfield bay site – signed a petition against the development.
Cllr Seely said,
“I think it’s important that the Council are ready to fight poor quality development rather than think that we have no choice but to accept it. We are under real pressure from developers to push through schemes. This decision shows that we can fight and win.”
The development sparked controversy for three reasons. First, the number of houses; the developer wanted to build over 90 units of holiday accommodation in semi-permanent bungalows. Second the plans significantly increased the built area of the site. Third, the bungalows, which were built on concrete bases, would be inhabited 52-weeks per year.
Cllr Seely said,
“We all accept that there is going to be development on this site – it’s a brownfield site – but it has got to be the right type of development. The development looked too much like a housing estate and too little like a holiday camp.”
The Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate’s report made specific reference to the effect on the environment, saying that:
“The scale, intensity and extent of the development would be wholly out of keeping with its surroundings. The current development is relatively low key; what is now proposed is much more extensive and intensive to the extent that it would be severely harmful to the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB.” (Point 17, page 3)
The report also said that “the proposals would harmfully degrade this section of the Heritage Coast.” (Point 20, page 4)
Cllr Seely said,
“I look forward to plans for this site which generate wealth for the Island in all senses of the word. This is a unique site, so let’s do something unique with it.
“We said at the time that this was an issue of judgement, not nimbyism. The Inspector agreed.
“It’s the quality of development that is important. Several local residents used to work at the site, and many people want it back as a commercially viable entity – but not at any price.”
Thanks to campaigners
On behalf of residents, Cllr Seely thanked local campaigners Richard Peckham and Doug Alldred for their efforts in organising the local community and speaking against the development.
Clr Seely finished by saying,
“We have had too much poor quality development on the Island in the past 50 years. We need to demand better quality development, and development that fits with a vision of the Island as a great place to visit all year round. Cheap and cheerful has had its day.
“We need to preserve our natural and built environment and cherish what we have, not trash it. Other tourism areas of England have preserved their environment much better than we have and have prospered as a result – the Lake District gets ten times the numbers of visits we have.”
Image: © Google Streetview