Plans to change use of woodland outside Newton Poppleford prompt concerns

Plans have been submitted to change the use of woodland in Littledown Lane on the outskirts of Newto

Plans have been submitted to change the use of woodland in Littledown Lane on the outskirts of Newton Poppleford. Sidmouth Herald - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a number of buildings in woodland on the outskirts of Newton Poppleford have been recommended for approval – despite concerns a precedent will be set.

The owners of the site in Littledown Lane, in the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), hope to change its use and farm pygmy goats.

Their application says the land has been left unattended and self-seeded over the last 25 years and they want to restore it as a ‘lovely, sustainable woodland habitat’.

The plans originally included a bird hide and paths but these have since been withdrawn after a number of concerns were raised.

District councillor Val Ranger objected, saying: “If permission is granted for this, it sets a precedent for a seemingly new category of ‘personal use’ that would be hard contest in future applications to change land from agricultural to personal use. Continual erosion and exceptions to the Local Plan weaken its purpose.

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“The land should remain as agricultural status, which will not prevent the applicants from goat breeding or watching birds but will make it clear that this is not a residential site either in part or in total.

“It will also go some way to protecting the AONB, which deserves the highest protection.”

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Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council did not support the construction of the proposed barn, arguing it would be significantly larger than necessary and would not blend well with the agricultural landscape.

Members also said the development was outside Newton Poppleford’s built-up area boundary and was therefore contrary to the village plan.

But East Devon District Council (EDDC) officers disagreed and recommended that the application should be approved.

They said: “Given the location of the site and its lawful agricultural use, the keeping and breeding of goats on the site is acceptable.

“In addition, the provision of a barn for the animals, construction of sheds for the storage of animal feed and tools are considered acceptable and ancillary to the agricultural use of the land.”

EDDC’s development management committee will decide the fate of the plans on Monday, August 7.

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