Langdale Wood

Langdale WoodLangdale Wood

Our position on the planning application for 50 chalets in Langdale Wood Local Wildlife Site

Langdale Wood is an important Local Wildlife Site (LWS) but parts of the site were heavily modified c20 years ago. Although the area chosen for development holds some very beautiful trees, the understorey shrubs have gone, reducing the habitat for wildlife compared to the adjacent intact woodland. The remaining grassland is used as a temporary campsite by the nearby showground, further exacerbating the problem.

Key Principles

Our position on development in any LWS is very clear and based on the following three principles:

  1. We have an in-principle objection to development within such sites and we recommend that development should be placed elsewhere if at all possible.
  2. Applications within LWS must therefore demonstrate that there are no alternative locations available and that the need for development outweighs any harm caused.
  3. Once the location has been robustly justified, appropriate levels of biodiversity mitigation and enhancement must be secured. 

These steps link directly to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework and guidance given in district Local Plans as well as the Trust’s own planning policy.

In light of revisions to the planning application, we have recently modified our response to the application for 50 chalets in the following areas:

  • Economic justification and locational choice. We have reiterated our concerns regarding the economic justification for the chalets but this is for Malvern Hills District Council (MHDC) to determine.
  • Ecological impact. We are now satisfied that the proposed ecological enhancements (planting and management interventions) are acceptable. Our position is contingent on MHDC imposing and enforcing relevant planning conditions. More information can be found below. 

2016 application

We objected to an almost identical application on the site, submitted in 2016, because we did not feel that the applicant had provided sufficient justification for the chalets within the wildlife site.

At this stage we made a number of comments regarding:

  • A request for more robust justification for development within the woodland
  • The area of habitat created to compensate for that lost to the development should be increased from the initial proposals
  • Careful controls to minimise the risk of damage during construction
  • Long-term management of the woodland both within the development site and more broadly should be improved
  • An access strategy should be drawn up to reduce the impact of additional recreational pressure on the woodland on the whole

The current position

The applicant has undertaken a significant amount of work to take into account our comments, resulting in the following changes:

  • An improved assessment setting out why alternative sites cannot be used
  • Significant habitat increases (more than 4:1 area gained to area lost)
  • Habitat improvements and features to benefit wildlife both within the development plot and elsewhere within the LWS
  • A proposal for additional compensatory planting outside the LWS, the full details of which are yet to be determined
  • A comprehensive access strategy that allows for continued enjoyment of the wood by the public but limits the disturbance caused by increased numbers of people across the wood as a whole
  • Draft versions of a Construction Environmental Management Plan, which will protect retained features during the construction process, and a long-term Habitat Management Plan to deliver improved management of both the development plot and wider woodland for the future

We have reiterated our concern over the commercial justification for the chalets but the detail of this is outside our remit; we look to MHDC to determine whether this is acceptable. If MHDC accepts the justification for the chalet development, we consider that the environmental improvements now proposed resolve our previous concerns and would lead to appropriate biodiversity enhancement.

We now look to the Council to determine the application in line with planning policy and await the outcome. Should permission be granted we will be paying close attention to the implementation of the scheme to ensure that wildlife is protected and the habitat enhanced as promised.

If you would like to discuss our response please email our Conservation Officer, Steve Bloomfield, or call him on 01905 754919.