A Permission in Principle (PIP) Planning Application has been submitted to Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council (BDBC) to build four houses on the most strategically significant area of land for amphibian migration on Cufaude Lane. If approved, this would be the final nail in the coffin for the area’s populations of Common Toad, Common Frog, Great Crested Newt and Smooth Newt. If you would like to comment on the application you can use some or all of following the information to write your own letter. You can also use it as a template: copy the text into a Word document, and add you name, address and date where appropriate. Your letter can be emailed to the planning officer at BDBC. Time is of the essence and your letters really will influence the planning decision-making process.

To: Development Control & Planning Department, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council

Email address: bethan.wallington@basingstoke.gov.uk 

From: add your name and address

Date: add the date

Re: Planning Application 22/00444/PIP 

I wish to object to the above application. 

There are some fundamental reasons for refusal: 

  • The application site lies outside any Settlement Policy Boundary.
  • A consequence of the development would be a reliance on the private car, which would conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework. 
  • The application is unsustainable due its location, which is remote and sited on a largely single-track lane.
  • There is no need for development. 

However, of greater significance, there are a number of important environmental factors that have been glossed over in the planning statement submitted on behalf of the applicants and ignored so far by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council in the planning process.

Years of data demonstrate that the amphibian population on Cufaude Lane (the location of 22/00444/PIP) represents the last remaining assemblage of any significance in north Hampshire, in terms of numbers and diversity. The site of Planning Application 22/00444/PIP is important nonbreeding terrestrial habitat for amphibians. In addition, it sits at the heart of the main migration route for all species but it is particularly significant for Common Toads; the animals spend their nonbreeding terrestrial lives to the east of 22/00444/PIP and move through it in spring and autumn to and from breeding ponds to the west. If you had to choose a place to build houses, destroy wildlife and an amphibian migration route you could not pick a more effective and devastating location.

The amphibians in question are Common Toad Bufo bufo, a notable species because of its status as a UK Biodiversity Action Priority Species; and Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus, which is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 giving it the same legal status as, for example, bats. In addition, other species recorded are Common Frog Rana temporaria and Smooth Newt Lissotriton vulgaris.

The significance of the location for amphibians is recognised by Hampshire County Council through their construction of an amphibian ‘underpass’ (known as a toad tunnel) immediately adjacent to the site of Planning Application 22/00444/PIP. Furthermore, Hampshire Highways have installed Toad Crossing signs at either end of the main crossing zone and Planning Application 22/00444/PIP is dead-centre between the two signs. A group of volunteer ‘Toad Patrollers’ operates during migration times to reduce the carnage on the road; the patrol is registered with Froglife as Cufaude Lane 314. Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council are fully aware of amphibian migration in the area and it was factored in to discussions and mitigation plans for nearby Planning Application 19/00018/OUT at Upper Cufaude Farm, on land owned by Hampshire County Council.

The assertion that Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council have failed to apply proper procedure to the planning process is based on reference to two documents: the Local Plan; and Basingstoke & Deane’s Supplement Planning Document, Landscape, Biodiversity and Trees.

Basingstoke and Deane Local Plan 2011 to 2029: Policy EM4  The policy wording is as follows with comments in red:

1. Development proposals will only be permitted if significant harm to biodiversity and/ or geodiversity resulting from a development can be avoided or, if that is not possible, adequately mitigated and where it can be clearly demonstrated that: there will be no adverse impact on the conservation status of key species; and there will be no adverse impact on the integrity of designated and proposed European designated sites; there will be no harm to nationally designated sites; and there will be no harm to locally designated sites including Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) and Local Nature Reserves (LNRs); and there will be no loss or deterioration of a key habitat type, including irreplaceable habitats; and there will be no harm to the integrity of linkages between designated sites and key habitats.

The weight given to the protection of nature conservation interests will depend on the national or local significance and any designation or protection applying to the site, habitat or species concerned.

Since the site of Planning Application 22/00444/PIP would destroy amphibian habitat and the most significant migration route, clearly the development could only result in significant harm to biodiversity as an outcome; and harm the key linkages between key habitats (those being amphibian non-breeding terrestrial habitats on one side of the development and breeding ponds on the other. No amount of mitigation could address those issues in a meaningful way.

2. Where development proposals do not comply with the above they will only be permitted if it has been clearly demonstrated that there is an overriding public need for the proposal which outweighs the need to safeguard biodiversity and/ or geodiversity and there is no satisfactory alternative with less or no harmful impacts. In such cases, as a last resort, compensatory measures will be secured to ensure no net loss of biodiversity and, where possible, provide a net gain.

There is no overriding public need for the proposal that outweighs the need to safeguard biodiversity.

3. Applications for development must include adequate and proportionate information to enable a proper assessment of the implications for biodiversity and geodiversity.

The applicants and their agents have failed in all regards relating to the supply of information and assessment.

4. In order to secure opportunities for biodiversity improvement, relevant development proposals will be required to include proportionate measures to contribute, where possible, to a net gain in biodiversity, through creation, restoration, enhancement and management of habitats and features including measures that help to link key habitats.

Approaches to secure improvements could be achieved through: a focus on identified Biodiversity Opportunity Areas and Biodiversity Priority Areas as identified in the councils Green Infrastructure Strategy (and subsequent updates) where appropriate; and through on-site and/ or off-site provision linked to new development in accordance with the council’s adopted green space standards.

There is no scope for net gain for the existing biodiversity of the area, specifically the amphibians. The only solution is to not build houses on the site.

Basingstoke & Deane’s Supplement Planning Document, Landscape, Biodiversity and Trees Among the documents many pages containing advice and requirements are the following principles of development, with responses in red:

Principle B1: Biodiversity information requirements 

In accordance with legislation and planning policy, adequate and proportionate information  must be provided with planning applications to allow the impacts on biodiversity to be  assessed.

Adequate and proportionate information regarding the impacts on biodiversity have not been supplied by the applicants or their agents.

Principle B2: Biodiversity checklist 

A biodiversity checklist should be completed to help inform the scope of the biodiversity information needed to validate and determine the planning application.

A biodiversity checklist has not been supplied in support of the planning application as judged by documents on the planning portal.

Principle B3: Biodiversity surveys

Where development may potentially have an adverse impact on designated sites, a key  habitat type, or legally protected or key species, biodiversity surveys must be provided.

These must:

i. Be undertaken by a suitably qualified ecologist and follow best practice guidance; ii. Be undertaken at an appropriate time of year;  iii. Be up-to-date; and iv. Cover the full area likely to be impacted by the development. 

The survey report should include a desk-based study which includes up-to-date  biodiversity data where this exists.

The application has not been supported by any form of biodiversity survey.

Principle B4: Protecting designated sites and key habitat types

Development proposals must not result in harm to nationally or locally designated sites or  lead to the loss or deterioration of a key habitat type or harm the integrity of linkages between them within the proposed development site and the surrounding area.

The location of Planning Application 22/00444/PIP cannot result in anything other than harm to the integrity of linkages between key habitat types (notable and protected species terrestrial nonbreeding habitat and breeding ponds).

Yours sincerely

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