Planning consent has been granted, at Appeal, for a residential led mixed-use development at Inglewood, Torquay.
The greenfield site, adjacent to the existing urban area, is in a sensitive location within the setting of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also within the bat sustenance zone of the South Hams Special Area for Conservation (SAC) for which bat roosts and habitats are a material matter for planning applications.
The proposals comprise a mixed-use development of 373no. residential dwellings, a school and a range of other facilities. Multi-functional green infrastructure is key element of the application with new woodland, tree and hedgerow planting providing enhancements for the local landscape character and nature conservation benefits. New footpaths will provide enhanced access into the countryside.
Nicholas Pearson Associates provided landscape, ecological and visualisation consultancy services for the project. Our work included; Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment; strategic landscape planning advice; ecology advice, surveys and assessment; Verifiable Visual Montages (VVM); and Expert Witness support.
The ecology work was a critical element of the project and included habitat surveys, bat surveys and ecology assessment. We liaised closely with the project team to ensure the proposals provided the required biodiversity benefits. This included suitable agricultural management with respect to grassland habitat creation and cattle grazing, together with an enhanced network of hedgerows and other habitats for improved bat foraging.
Our ecology advice and work, including detailed consultation through the planning process with Torbay Council and Natural England established that, with respect to a Habitat Regulations Assessment, the proposals would not give rise to significant adverse effects to the SAC. Initial ecological objections to the planning application were overcome such that all ecological matters were resolved prior to the commencement of the public inquiry.
Our VVM work, undertaken in accordance with the technical guidance prepared by the Landscape Institute was recognised by all parties as providing a robust basis for assessing the visual effects on identified visual receptors, including those within the South Devon AONB.
The Inspector’s report concluded that, with respect to landscape matters, whilst there would be impacts on the landscape character, including the setting of the South Devon AONB the harm would be limited and outweighed by the overall benefits of the proposals. These benefits included considerable landscape and ecological mitigation and enhancement, including with respect to multi-functional green infrastructure.