Wildlife trust wins HQ appeal

By David GreenA PUBLIC inquiry inspector has overturned a council's refusal to grant planning permission for a new headquarters for a wildlife trust.

By David Green

A PUBLIC inquiry inspector has overturned a council's refusal to grant planning permission for a new headquarters for a wildlife trust.

Suffolk Coastal District Council had rejected a plan to convert 19th century barns at Foxburrow Farm, Melton, into headquarters for Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

But an inspector who conducted a public inquiry into the controversy has upheld the trust's appeal and granted planning permission for the development.

Residents had expressed fears at the inquiry, held last month, that noise and other disturbance would lead to a deterioration in their quality of life.

They also claimed it would be harder to access their properties via the long and narrow road to the farm - already used by the trust as an educational centre, a model for environmentally-friendly agriculture and a base for a project that uses sheep to help protect and maintain Suffolk's coastal heaths.

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However, planning inspector, Elizabeth Fieldhouse, concluded in her report, issued yesterday, that extra traffic would not generate such noise and disturbance as to unacceptably harm residents' amenities.

She attached a condition to the planning permission to the effect that the trust could not use the converted barns as a visitors centre.

Julian Roughton, the trust's director, said he was delighted with the outcome of the appeal.

“We felt the district council had made a wrong decision and this is why we appealed. Foxburrow Farm is already at the heart of the trust's activity and represents the values we hold as an organisation,” he added.

The trust, which now has a membership of 19,000, has outgrown its present headquarters in Ashbocking.

Mr Roughton said it could be two years before the barn in Melton was ready to be used by staff.

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said: “While we are always disappointed to see a planning decision overturned, it was always one which was a tough one to call.

“The inspector has imposed a number of conditions that will help limit some of the potential problems that development of this site could generate.”

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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