Lopping in Loxwood Meadow ‘could change landscape’

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Tree-felling and hedgerow cutting proposed for a countryside location would change the landscape and destroy a wildlife corridor, Chichester district councillors were warned.

Strong objections were raised by local residents and their parish council to two separate applications submitted by Bacon Empire Publishing Ltd, owners of the Loxwood Meadow, at Roundstreet Common, Loxwood.

After hearing representations for and against, the district’s northern area development management committee voted six-three to refuse an application to cut back trees and shrubs within three metres of the edge of the road over a distance of 15m from an access to the land.

Reasons for refusal included harm to the visual amenity of the area and to its character and appearance.

But a separate application to fell 13 trees at the site was approved, subject to conditions covering issues including the height of proposed replacement trees and protective fencing.

Recommending approval of both applications, area planning manager David Few said the proposed cutback would be just light maintenance, and would not significantly impact on visual amenity. The proposals were much more limited in scale than previous ones, which were refused.

But local resident John Andrews said they would make the area look like a townscape.

And another objector, Julia Beckell, said the local landscape would be completely changed, and a wildlife corridor destroyed. Other critics claimed the proposals would make the area look ‘horrible, open and unattractive’.

Maurice Bacon, managing director of Bacon Empire Publishing, said the proposals were nothing to do with the medieval festivals, because they had a traffic management plan for these.

“They are to do with the general use of the land, and going on and off it and being safe,” he told the committee. “This is a very fast road.”

They hoped to be able to farm the land in some way, possibly with hay and straw, as well as using it for jousting.

Philippa Hardwick (Con, Plaistow) who represents the local area, said in a letter that the proposals were unreasonable and disproportionate, given the limited use of the site. They were also likely to damage or destroy ancient woodland.

The committee was told a number of the trees proposed for felling were not of good quality. Replacements were planned.

Henry Potter (Con, Boxgrove) said a police report had indicated that the traffic management plan worked. “I feel there is no need for cutting back the verges,” he added.

But trees needed management, and he supported the proposed felling.

Committee chairman Andrew Smith said the applications were based on good aboricultural practice, and he supported them.