Cherwell District Council have today responded to an enquiry from a West Adderbury resident regarding the work currently being carried out by Adderbury Parish Council (APC) on the field next to Henge Close, off the Milton Road.
The questions asked by the resident were:
- Does APC have planning permission under change-of-use application 18/0220/F to carry out the work?
- If so, is the work in breach of Condition 18 of that permission, which states that vegetation should not be stripped during the bird nesting season, ending in August?
- Since the contractors have verbally confirmed that they are also moving earth from one end of the site to the other with the intention of levelling the field, is the work in breach of Condition 8 of the permission, which states that prior to any works to change site levels, a plan showing full details of the existing and proposed site levels shall be submitted to and approved by CDC?
The following response has now been received from David Peckford, Assistant Director, Planning and Development, CDC:
“Officers are aware that works are being undertaken on the land north of Milton Road associated with planning permission 18/00220/F. They had been given to understand that the works related to the implementation of the drainage scheme required by planning condition 3 attached to the permission and subsequently discharged.
However, having considered the information provided and having visited the site officers accept that there is some doubt as to whether the works being undertaken (principally the removal of topsoil) are being undertaken only to implement the approved drainage scheme or whether they are also being undertaken in anticipation of the laying-out of playing pitches. While ground works can of course be expected for implementation of a drainage scheme, officers are mindful that under planning permission 18/00220/F there are planning conditions that need to be satisfied for the laying out of the pitches, including the submission of details of existing and proposed levels (condition 8).
The full, intended scope of the works presently being undertaken is not entirely clear to officers; nor is it known when the Parish Council or its contractor will be submitting the outstanding discharge of condition applications that are required under planning permission 18/00220/F. Officers will therefore contact the Parish Council to provide the opportunity to clarify the situation and will advise you of the outcome in due course.
I must add that planning enforcement action is discretionary and is undertaken in the public interest where there is evidence of significant harm. I am advised by officers who have visited the site that there is no evidence of significant harm at the present time. This includes no known evidence of ground nesting birds being significantly, adversely affected. Officers will, however, speak to the Parish Council and/or contractor about good practice in protecting adjoining hedgerows. It is noted that condition 18 of 18/00220/F indicates that site clearance shall be timed to avoid the bird nesting/breeding season. However, having regard to the reason for the condition (that development does not cause harm to any protected species or their habitats), to a recent visit by the Council’s ecologist, and in the absence of known evidence that any harm is being caused, officers do not consider that there is currently justification to intervene on that particular point”.
It is not surprising that the Council ecologist found no evidence of birds being harmed. After a week of heavy machinery stripping the vegetation and moving mounds of earth from one end of the site to the other, all the birds have gone, as has the other wildlife which once inhabited this field. Any nests on the ground have now been buried. Would it not have made more sense to have an ecologist visit the site before work started?
It is also very concerning that CDC is “not entirely clear” on the scope of the work being carried out. Mr Peckford’s comments additionally suggest that CDC suspect that Condition 8 has in fact been breached.
Another resident has further concerns that the drainage work being carried out may not even comply with the approved drainage scheme. Those residents who are familiar with the flooding that has occurred in this part of the village will find this especially worrying. We will update you on this point in due course.