The inquiry has closed into Robert Hitchins/Bloor Homes’ non-determination appeal for 95 houses at Coombe Hill on the A38 near Tewkesbury. The application was made initially for 150 houses but was reduced in the light of objections from Natural England on ecological grounds and Gloucestershire County Council who sought education contributions to address the impact of development on local schools. The ecological objection was based on the potential for adverse effects on the integrity of the Severn Estuary SPA as a result of use of the local Coombe Hill Nature Reserve as “functionally linked land” to the SPA because of its use by curlews who formed part of the wildfowl assemblage for which the SPA was designated. It was feared that too great use of the reserve by new residents of the development – and in particular dog walkers – would deter curlews from resorting to potential breeding habitat and therefore undermine its conservation objectives. The education objection was raised by the County Council because the developers maintained that education contributions were already covered by CIL and so no additional contributions were payable under section 106. After nine days of evidence and argument, the Inspector’s decision is awaited.
Douglas Edwards QC represented the County Council as education authority and Meyric Lewis represented Tewkesbury Borough Council who maintained the ecological and other planning objections to the proposals.