He ripped up trees in Dartmouth before housing plans were rejected
A developer who cut down an entire woodland on land he hoped to build houses on has claimed what he did was ‘lawful’.
The large woodland over 6,000 square feet in Dartmouth was once a green hillside but over Christmas 2018 it was cleared of its trees and reduced to flat mud.
Several residents in Dartmouth had complained about the desecration of the woodland when the developer didn’t have permission to cut the trees down, and the Forestry Commission is now investigating reports of ”alleged illegal felling”.
Developer Dave Holloway had hoped to build nine homes on the site, but his application was turned down by South Hams District Council.
But Mr Holloway has now applied for a Lawful Development Certificate for the site, claiming that because requirements of a previous planning permission for an a housing development at Seymour Drive that required an area of ‘open grassland to be provided’ were not carried out properly, then that condition cannot be enforced, and thus the felling of trees was lawful.
Statements with the application outline that in February 1999, plans for 28 homes at Seymour Drive were granted, which included a condition that ‘a landscape scheme shall be carried out and an area of open grassland provided’.
Solicitor Graham Cridland, in the submission of behalf of the applicant, states that the condition was never completed or fully complied with and therefore cannot be enforced and thus it was ‘lawful’ to cut down the trees.
It adds: “Condition 7 also states that all planting, seeding, or turfing comprised in the landscaping scheme shall be carried out and completed by the end of the first planting and seeding seasons, following the completion of the residential development.
“The residential development is believed to have been completed 19 years ago and the condition was not complied with, and the breach has persisted, without any formal enforcement action being taken by the council, for in excess of 18 years.
“The failure to comply with condition 7 is no longer capable for being enforced against by the council and as such is lawful.”
His statement adds that Google Earth images show the site has been fenced and no area of open grassland has been provided in 2006, 2010 or 2011.
Mr Cridland concludes: “The application is made to establish that condition 7 of the planning permission is no longer enforceable by the council against the site, and as such, the breach is now lawful.
“The only matter which the council can consider when determining this application is whether the development is lawful, which is a legal question. The evidence may be limited but it is precise and there can be no doubting the fact that the open grassland or the planting and works required have not been provided.”
South Hams District Council, as well as the South Hams Society, have since launched a call for evidence as to whether or not the condition was carried out.
Cathy Koo, vice-chairman of the South Hams Society, said: “If anyone reading this is able to provide any factual evidence from personal knowledge of the felled woodland site, which might refute the Applicant’s claims, the Council need you to submit it online.
“The South Hams Society have taken an active role in helping the residents of Seymour Drive to fight this case and are delighted to see that the Council is actively calling for evidence.
“The council have written to the Local Parish Council and those in the community who may have a knowledge of what has happened in the past on the site. At a time when the environment is under increasing pressure it is unacceptable that developers think they are above the law. We urge anyone who has any historic evidence of that particular site to tell us or South Hams.”
Anyone who has evidence is asked to comment online at http://apps.southhams.gov.uk/PlanningSearchMVC/Home/Details/200319
South Hams District Council will decide whether the tree felling was ‘lawful’ at a later date.