The decision to throw out “horrific” plans to provide a gate to a field on greenbelt land was greeted with cheers and applause by concerned residents.
Residents living near the field in Burgh Heath Road, Epsom, were concerned that, if approved, the application would open the gate for further development, including housing.
A strip of land on the western part of field had been sold off and no formal agreement for access to the field had been reached, planning officer James Udall told Epsom and Ewell Borough Council’s planning committee last week.
The applicant wanted to remove about 34 metres of hedgerow to provide a 3.5-metre wide gate on tarmac standing to allow tractors, quadbikes and balers to gain access. The applicant believed vehicles would likely need to access the field 30 times a year, planning documents showed.
But the proposal was rejected on Wednesday, April 12, with only committee vice chairman Mike Teasdale voting in favour of it, as councillors argued cutting away hedgerow for the gate would negatively impact the landscape and alter the area’s local distinctiveness.
Fiona Fitzgibbon, a resident of nearby Beech Lane, spoke against the proposal at the meeting, cheered on by about a dozen neighbours.
She said: “We are deeply concerned about the proposed gate.
“It is totally unnecessary and we feel it could lead to further development.”
Councillor Tina Mountain (pictured above), who had called the application in for a decision, described the plans as “horrific”. She said: “You can understand why they are suspicious about this application.
“There is no reason to have this hard standing on the green belt – especially when, on average, it is going to be used 30 times a year. There is already adequate access to the field.”
She added: “This application would be the thin end of the wedge.”
Residents’ Association Councillor Graham Dudley questioned the need for tarmac to be laid down alongside the gate, and why greenbelt policy should allow this.
“There must be thousands of fields across the country which have access from the public highway,” he said.
“I’m not happy that anyone could just come along and lay in a slab of concrete in the greenbelt.”
Councillor Martin Olney added: “It would be a real blight on the landscape if you took a 35-metre hedge out of it.”
Residents from Burgh Heath Road and nearby Beech Road applauded from the public gallery as councillors threw out the decision.
Planning officer Mr Udall had said: “Neighbouring occupants have raised concerns about whether this application would lead to planning application for houses in the future.”
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