Posted: 10th February 2020  10:22am

Forest School Planning Permission

Where is the scheme located?

We were contacted last year by Muddy Puddle Club for planning advice regarding planning permission for a proposed Forest School located within the woodland north of Audley’s Wood Hotel in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

What is the proposed development?

The planning application proposed a change of use of the land to forest school including the provision of associated parking. This is an educational scheme that takes adults and children into the woodland to learn about ecology, nature and survival. Access will be via the farm track to the south-west which connects to the B3046 or the two bus stops on the A339 to the east which is serviced by the 13X and 613 services. The application proposed 10 parking spaces to be located alongside the existing farm track on an existing hardcore area.  The parking site is already connected to the woodlands; thus, no material would be required. The activities within the site will not involve the development of any infrastructure or equipment but will involve walks through the woods along with small presentations and activities within a small group. More information about activities and the nature of forest school can be viewed at the Muddy Puddle Club website.

What are the material planning considerations?

The site location had two key constraints that made obtaining planning permission a difficult endeavour. The land is designated a site of importance for nature conservation (SINC) and an Ancient Woodland. These two designations place a high importance on ecological value and thus all proposed developments may only be permitted if they preserve or enhance the ecological value of the land. 

It was argued by the Council’s Ecologist that the scheme would cause the loss of irreplaceable habitat due to the footfall of the forest school participants and this would compact the soil which was considered an important habitat. After several months of debate and further studies being provided, the officer refused to change their consultation response for a third time. We strongly disagreed with this response and made submitted consultation response detailing our justification for the development in 2019002DA Response Letter.

The planning officer unfortunately sided with the objection raised by the biodiversity officer and, therefore, recommended refusal. In response, we requested that the application be decided at Planning Committee. Due to family commitments I was unable to attend the Planning Committee (below from 3:20 to 32:20), but the applicant provided an excellent presentation and answered all questions raised by elected Councillors. The recommendation of refusal was unanimously overturned and the forest school was granted full planning permission subject to conditions.

By James Banks BSc(Hons) AssocRTPI

By James Banks BSc(Hons) AssocRTPI

Town Planning Consultant and Owner of Alpha Planning & Development

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Posted: 10th February 2020  10:22am

Forest School Planning Permission

Where is the scheme located?

We were contacted last year by Muddy Puddle Club for planning advice regarding planning permission for a proposed Forest School located within the woodland north of Audley’s Wood Hotel in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

What is the proposed development?

The planning application proposed a change of use of the land to forest school including the provision of associated parking. This is an educational scheme that takes adults and children into the woodland to learn about ecology, nature and survival. Access will be via the farm track to the south-west which connects to the B3046 or the two bus stops on the A339 to the east which is serviced by the 13X and 613 services. The application proposed 10 parking spaces to be located alongside the existing farm track on an existing hardcore area.  The parking site is already connected to the woodlands; thus, no material would be required. The activities within the site will not involve the development of any infrastructure or equipment but will involve walks through the woods along with small presentations and activities within a small group. More information about activities and the nature of forest school can be viewed at the Muddy Puddle Club website.

What are the material planning considerations?

The site location had two key constraints that made obtaining planning permission a difficult endeavour. The land is designated a site of importance for nature conservation (SINC) and an Ancient Woodland. These two designations place a high importance on ecological value and thus all proposed developments may only be permitted if they preserve or enhance the ecological value of the land. 

It was argued by the Council’s Ecologist that the scheme would cause the loss of irreplaceable habitat due to the footfall of the forest school participants and this would compact the soil which was considered an important habitat. After several months of debate and further studies being provided, the officer refused to change their consultation response for a third time. We strongly disagreed with this response and made submitted consultation response detailing our justification for the development in 2019002DA Response Letter.

The planning officer unfortunately sided with the objection raised by the biodiversity officer and, therefore, recommended refusal. In response, we requested that the application be decided at Planning Committee. Due to family commitments I was unable to attend the Planning Committee (below from 3:20 to 32:20), but the applicant provided an excellent presentation and answered all questions raised by elected Councillors. The recommendation of refusal was unanimously overturned and the forest school was granted full planning permission subject to conditions.

By James Banks BSc(Hons) AssocRTPI

By James Banks BSc(Hons) AssocRTPI

Town Planning Consultant and Owner of Alpha Planning & Development

Contact

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Call us: +44 (0) 7810 810910

Email us: info@alphapd.co.uk

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