Appeal for 204 homes rejected due to loss of community space
COUNCILLOR: ‘WE NEED MORE HOUSES, BUT THIS SHOULD NOT BE AT ANY COST’
A PLANNING appeal that sought to build 204 homes at a Mansfield quarry has been dismissed by a planning inspector.
Mansfield District Council Planning Application Committee refused to outline permission for the works at Gregory Quarry – citing a lack of green infrastructure, loss of habitat and harm to local greenspace and community open space.
The applicant, Lee O’connor, appealed against the initial decision last year (July 6, 2021), but a four-day inquiry in April saw the bid for homes off Quarry Lane rejected.
The council noted that while the scheme had some benefits, such as affordable housing, this did not outweigh the harm it could do.
Siobhan Watson, of the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, heard evidence for and against the development. Her 10-page decision was issued on Tuesday, June 14, and concluded: “Whilst there are some benefits to the scheme, including the provision of market and affordable housing, these do not outweigh the cumulative harm I have found.
“The loss of the GI [Green Infrastructure], whatever type of habitat existed, and the harm to LG [Local Greenspace] and COS [Community Open Space] are sufficient to make the scheme unacceptable, even without the additional biodiversity harm.
“The proposal therefore conflicts with the development plan as a whole and does not represent sustainable development.”
The inquiry heard in April that the development was contrary to the council Local Plan designations on GI and would have an impact on the biodiversity of an important area of peaceful habitat supporting, among other species, certain rare species’ of bat.
The inspector also decided it would have detracted from the quality of local green spaces – namely Quarry Lane Local Nature Reserve (LNR) – which her report said provided a unique place for school trips and family outings within a heavily built-up area.
She said the quarry and nearby LNR and River Maun Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and the Maun Woodland and Scrub LWS remained important habitats for invertebrates and bats, even though Gregory Quarry had been largely cleared of vegetation before the inquiry.
The inspector said bat surveys that were carried out had been inadequate, but still showed that the site was an important foraging habitat for a significant variety of bats.
Seven species were spotted, including the rare Leisler’s bat and the serotine species, which is extremely rare in Nottinghamshire and has only been recorded five times in 15 years.
Councillor Stuart Richardson, portfolio holder for regeneration and growth, said: “We are pleased that this decision has recognised the importance and value of retaining areas of green space within an urban environment.
“Even though this quarry is not open to the public, it still represents a valuable natural asset in this part of Mansfield, and its continued presence also enhances the quality of local green and open spaces around it.
“Yes, we need more houses – like everywhere in England – but this should not be at any cost. Green corridors are also an important feature of any urban landscape.”