Planning Applications

ASHRA's Response - Countryside and Community Identity

Countryside & Community Identity

The land in question is particularly sensitive to development pressure, but it prevents coalescence between Ash, Ash Green and Tongham.  Allowing this development would effectively join three villages together, with subsequent loss of identity, and destroy the remaining attractive countryside in the area that should be protected. Wherever one goes in Ash, Ash Green or Tongham one gets a sense that each village, although incorporating new building over the years, still retains its own identity and friendly atmosphere.

To allow this Planning Application would, regardless of the countryside, remove this sense of identity in the communities. It would also go against one of the aims of the Government according to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), in that they want to “prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another”.

In addition the proposal would form an undesirable and unnecessary intrusion of residential development into the peaceful countryside which would, if permitted, detract from the visual and rural amenities of the area. Views of open green space will be lost forever for hundreds of local residents and visitors alike, and from such sensitive places as the Hogs Back, which is already designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Also for the public using the disused railway line and bridle path (which is under a conservation order as country walks and cycle ways) will be rendered worthless if bordered by houses.

The NPPF states that Planning policies and decisions should aim to identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason.

The building of hundreds of homes will mean the destruction of scarce, undisturbed wetland habitat, and any attempt at draining the land will reduce the water table and kill off the mature Oak trees which have shallow roots.

The unusual ancient double hedgerows which provide cover for large mammals, even if retained, will be unattractive to the species they support. There are also a large number of Oak Trees of between 160 and 200 years of age, and mature Ash and Maple trees around these fields which need to be protected. In addition we will see the destruction of bog land supporting rare grasses and plants.

The maintenance of the “Sites of Nature Conservation Interest” would be surrounded by housing, again making them unattractive to the species they support, and increased pollution and low hanging ozone in the valley area, which is already a problem in periods of long calm weather.

Inevitable defacement by rubbish, and damage to flora along the conserved railway line and bridal paths due to encroaching human habitation, will surely follow.

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