A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal by a landowner seeking to build 204 houses at Gregory Quarry in Mansfield.
Lee O’Connor appealed against a decision last year (6 July) by Mansfield District Council Planning Applications Committee to refuse outline planning permission for the development with access off Quarry Lane.
A four-day inquiry was held in April at Mansfield Civic Centre during which Siobhan Watson, of the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, heard evidence for and against the development.
Her 10-page decision was issued on Tuesday 14 June and concluded: “Whilst there are some benefits to the scheme, including the provision of market and affordable housing, these do not outweigh the cumulative harm I have found.
“The loss of the GI [Green Infrastructure], whatever type of habitat existed, and the harm to LG [Local Greenspace] and COS [Community Open Space] are sufficient to make the scheme unacceptable even without the additional biodiversity harm.
“The proposal therefore conflicts with the development plan as a whole and does not represent sustainable development.”
The Inquiry heard in April that the development was contrary to the council Local Plan designations on GI and would have an impact on the biodiversity of an important area of peaceful habitat supporting, among other species, certain rare varieties of bat.
The Inspector also decided it would have detracted from the quality of local green spaces – namely Quarry Lane Local Nature Reserve (LNR) – which her report said provided a unique place for school trips and family outings within a heavily built-up area.
She said the quarry and nearby LNR and River Maun Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and the Maun Woodland and Scrub LWS remained important habitats for invertebrates and bats, even though Gregory Quarry had been largely cleared of vegetation before the inquiry.
The inspector said bat surveys that were carried out had been inadequate but still showed that the site was an important foraging habitat for a significant variety of bats. Seven species were spotted, including the rare Leisler’s bat and the serotine species, which is extremely rare in Nottinghamshire and has only been recorded five times in 15 years.
The inspector also pointed to a “clear policy conflict” with the council’s Local Plan as it would involve the loss of a significant area of GI in central Mansfield.
Cllr Stuart Richardson, portfolio holder for regeneration and growth, said: “We are pleased that this decision has recognised the importance and value of retaining areas of green space within an urban environment.
“Even though this quarry is not open to the public, it still represents a valuable natural asset in this part of Mansfield and its continued presence also enhances the quality of local green and open spaces around it.
“Yes, we need more houses – like everywhere in England – but this should not be at any cost. Green corridors are also an important feature of any urban landscape.”