Static Caravan proposal for Top Lodge
Updated 30th July
Early in 2019 a planning application was lodged with East Northants Council to create a "Timber Lodge Holiday Park" at Fineshade.
On 30th July, faced with almost certain defeat in the Planning Management Committee, the application was withdrawn.
There are were objections from 128 members of the public (including from three local Parish Councils) and others from official consultees.
After the original submission the applicants carried out further surveys, the results of which were submitted in June. (Noise, elevations, drainage, trees, automated traffic counters, reptiles and plant surveys.) This meant that there was a further opportunity to comment and object, particularly on the new information they provided. A summary of the new proposals is below.
Important concerns were subsequently lodged by Forestry England, by the Wildlife Trust, the County Council's Ecologist and other members of the public.
The map shows the existing Top Lodge buildings (greyish tones, top right)
In an extensive report published on 25th July, the East Northants Planning Officer recommended that the application be rejected. He listed no less than five very strong reasons:
1. Unacceptable countryside development
2. Adverse visual impact on landscape, and disturbance to local tranquil character
3. An unacceptable impact on protected species found on the site
4. Adverse impact on the setting of the Listed Building ‘Top Lodge’ and
5. A poorly located residential development, resulting in highways safety issues at the A43 junction as well as along the access road.
Each reason was closely argued and backed by evidence to show that the application was contrary to relevant planning policies. It is these arguments that would be tested if, in the event of the application being rejected, the applicants were subsequently to lodge an appeal.
It was such a strong recommendation and the public opposition was so united that the owners of the field withdrew the application 24 hours before the committee were due to make their decision.
Planning Officer's report. 33 pages, 300Kb
Additions to application published 11-24th June
1. Ecology Assessment. Some surveys have been carried out, many reptiles found and mitigation proposed. This involves moving the reptiles to an unsuitable area at the other end of the field and deliberately destroying the habitat they are currently using. More details here.
2. Noise Impact Assessment. This recognises that there are residential properties nearby and proposes a Noise Management Plan which the "site manager" will enforce. The writer is clearly not aware that the main application specifically rules out on-site staff.
3. Floor plans. We can now see what the static caravans will look like (see below)
4. Changed road layout. All vehicles will now access the site via the proposed western entrance. Pedestrians and bikes only to use eastern entrance. This will involve widening Top Lodge Road opposite the entrance (See Transport Assessment), Some additional parking provided for visitors and staff (what staff?) and an extra turning bay.
5. Traffic surveys have been carried out over the two weeks from 24th May 2019 to the 7th June 2019. Based on traffic on Bank Holiday Monday they predict that at peak times traffic flows will be up to 149 vehicles per hour, or on average one every 24 seconds!
6. Arboricultural method statement - how the trees surrounding the site will be cared for.
7. Drainage. They will build cages under the new roadway to collect surface water and a large underground tank for foul water. How excess water will get from here to the River Welland is not clearly defined.
The plan is by Countrywide Parks Ltd
and would involve cramming 32 static caravans in half the field in front of Top Lodge.
Please click here to see the full planning application on the council's planning portal.
It is number 18/02428/FUL.
This development is proposed on the privately-owned field where, until very recently, sheep have grazedl. It was part of the previous Top Lodge Farm and is an important gateway to Fineshade Wood.
This is the field where the static caravans would be placed
Friends of Fineshade are totally opposed to this plan
You can see our reasons here - a page that is being extended and developed regularly
Forestry England are concerned by this plan
We are delighted that Forestry England (previously known as the Forestry Commission) have joined in the
opposition to this proposal. On 25th June they wrote to the Planning Officer requesting that he take into account their concerns that the proposals:
will make a negative contribution to the setting of Top Lodge, Grade II listed building and have an overbearing negative impact on the building and on visitors/amenity;
do not appear to conserve or enhance the heritage significance;
do not complement their surrounds in form, scale, design or materials.
They are also concerned about lack of adequate parking provision and that the proposal is in fact for longer term residential accommodation rather than short term holiday accommodation.
You can download their letter in full here.
Our local Wildlife Trust object to this plan
"Given the significance of the site for breeding reptiles and lack of suitable mitigation measures, we do not consider this proposal to be in line with national and local policy and recommend it is refused."
You can download their objection in full here.