Argument 2. It is detrimental to the character of the area
Cothill Pitt is currently accessible and well used without being damaged or significantly altered by those that make use of it. Planning Policy in relation to development in the Green Belt as set out in Paragraph 81 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to “ … plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.”
The proposed development will limit public access to the Green Belt, significantly reduce the area for outdoor sport and recreation, destroy the visual amenity and be harmful to the character and appearance of the area.
Argument 3. It will add significant pressure to local roads
The proposed development contradicts Planning Policies paragraph 29 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) principle of sustainable development, which requires promotion of sustainable transport.
If built, the development would increase the need for car travel, add pressure on the local roads and raise carbon emissions. The location of the site does not give people a chance to choose a sustainable mode of transport. Travel to the site is largely by car - there are no local bus stops within easy walking distance. Moreover, there are no pedestrian routes or cycle paths leading to the site, meaning that all travel will be done by private cars. Connections to local villages would be possible only by cars as well.
PLEASE NOTE: THE DEVELOPERS WITHDREW THE LAST PLANNING APPLICATION IN JULY 2015. THIS PAGE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY
Why does the Save Cothill Pitt action group object to this planning application?
The Save Cothill Pitt action group believe Cothill Pitt should not be inappropriately developed, as it would be if this planning application was accepted. Key arguments are outlined below. If you feel the same, please use some or all of these arguments in your objection to the District Council. For a step-by-step guide to submitting your comments go to the "TAKE ACTION "page or use the 'comment now' button to go straight to the council's website.
Argument 4. It is inappropriate development
The proposal represents inappropriate development as defined by Planning Policy Guidance Note 2. Paragraph 3.4 of the document classifies new buildings as inappropriate development that would cause harm to the Green Belt. Core policy 9 of the Local Plan also protects Green Belt areas from inappropriate developments. Therefore, planning application for 14 dwellings dwellings (with scope for further) and communal car park is clearly inappropriate and should not be allowed on the green belt site.
The Green Belt has already suffered from incursion in the land between Abingdon and the A34, reducing quality green space for local communities. This needs to stop before there is nothing left. Once built on, it will never go back to green space.
Argument 5. It is environmentally unjust and socially unsustainable
The proposed development is socially unsustainable. Seasonal or second homes do not help to reduce the need for houses. On the contrary, holiday homes make negative impact on local communities. According to the recent statement of the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, second home owners are "gutting" rural communities, driving up property prices and making it impossible for local young families to buy homes.
The development of holiday homes on the green belt will have an environmental justice issue too. If built, it will provide several wealthy families with the second homes in the area at the cost of access to the green belt land of all local people.
Argument 1. Cothill Pitt is part of the Green Belt
Cothill Pitt lies within the designated green belt. Paragraph 79 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that “The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence”. Local Plan Core Policy 9 also requires the maintenance of "Green Belt openness and open character."
Proposed housing development would harm Green Belt openness. Moreover, it would require additional roads, boundary fencing and backfilling, that together with the related HGV and other traffic movements would materially diminish Green Belt character and would be a conflict with Green Belt purposes in respect of encroachment into the countryside.
Argument 6. It sets a dangerous precedent for building on Cothill Pitt
The developer's first application put in for 12 holiday lodges. The latest application has increased that to 14. Anyone who has studied the plan will quickly see the development is unlikely to stop at 14.
At a time when many rural areas of the country are threatened by development, the building on Cothill Pitt would constitute a dangerous precedent.
The heritage of Cothill Pitt is unique and should be preserved. It is not, as the developer suggests, of 'low landscape quality'. Quite the contrary. The fact that it was saved from landfill means it is of high quality for the type of habitat it represents and an asset to the rural landscape.
Save Cothill Pitt
Argument 7. It would harm wildlife
The bowl-shaped topography and calcareous sandy soil make Cothill Pitt a wonderful heat trap that suits a huge range of invertebrates such as Solitary bees, Bumblebees, Hoverflies and Marbled White Butterflies. The proposed development cannot fail to impact negatively on such species.
The short grassland supports charismatic birds such as the Green Woodpecker (seen feeding on ants in the grass) and local Barn Owls are a regular visitor. Reptiles such as Common Lizards and Slow Worms (a type of legless lizard) have been seen basking in the sun. Glow worms too have been witnessed glowing at Cothill Pitt. Increased human presence both during the day and at night would see these birds and animals decline or disperse.
Argument 9. It would cause habitat fragmentation and deplete the quality of neighbouring protected sites
Positioned close to the three protected SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) sites of Hitchcopse Pit, Dry Sandford Pit and Cothill Fen, Cothill Pitt forms part of a much bigger network of ecologically valuable sites. It is a link to habitats that are of local, national and, in the case of Cothill Fen, European importance.
Paragraph 117 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states planning policies should "promote the preservation, restoration and re-creation of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species populations".
Far from promoting ecological networks, this development will lead to its fragmentation and impact negatively on the neighbouring protected sites. Cothill Pitt acts as a reservoir of many plant and animal species, offering resources such as nectar or larval food plants that are not available at other sites.
Argument 8. It would adversely impact on pollinators and other threatened species
The developer's ecological report is inadequate and makes the (incorrect) assumption that species that have not been recorded on the site are not present at Cothill Pitt.
The opinion of the ecologists who have undertaken site surveys at the request of Save Cothill Pitt action group is that this constitutes a serious flaw in the report, meaning the proposed mowing regime for the south side of the Pitt is completely unsuitable for the site and the species it supports.
Invertebrates, including vital pollinators such as bees and butterflies, do not feature in the ecological report. Two threatened species that would be negatively affected by the mowing regime are the Small Blue Butterfly (which uses Cothill Pitt as a breeding site and has been adopted as our logo) and the Large Scabious Mining Bee. The UK Government recognises the value of pollinators in its recently launched UK Pollinator Strategy.