Homebuilder's offer of "dormouse bridge" not enough to win planning appeal

A developer's appeal against refusal of planning permission for a 24-home rural development in Hampshire has been dismissed after the inspector found the impact on a protected woodland and its dormouse population would be too great.

Image: Cristina Sanvito
Image: Cristina Sanvito

Developer Hurlock Investments originally sought outline permission to build on the edge of the village of Four Marks in July last year, but East Hampshire District Council refused this in February.

The site includes a Site of Important Nature Conservation (SINC) consisting of a pocket of woodland and mature hedgerows in which hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius), protected under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act, were well established.

In light of this, Hurlock submitted a Dormouse Mitigation Strategy, including a "dormouse bridge" between trees to give them access across a section of hedgerow which would be removed.

But the negative decision prepared by the Planning Inspectorate for the council on Hurlock's appeal stated: "I am not persuaded that the functionality of the hedgerow would be maintained and that the proposal would secure or enhance the population of hazel dormice."

It also cited issues supply of housing land within the district, provision for infrastructure and affordable housing, and the sustainability of the development.

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