There is continuing activity at the Lidl site.
It appears that the original hoarding that was built around the site was too high. Inside sources tell us that Lidl has had to engage workers to lop two feet off the top of the entire boundary hoarding!
One can only assume that the old hoarding (that had been there for many months) was breaking some planning-related law or other. Of course, it could simply be that Lidl wanted to help local employment. (Let's hope that the wasted wood is re-cycled).
We defer to the expertise of the LPA Detailed Ecological Comments recently uploaded to the Council planning website.(Link).
They state that:
1.84ha of dense scrub habitat will be removed to facilitate the development.
Our first comment would be that the 1.84ha scrub habitat has already been removed. Is this acceptable before planning permission has been granted? It's probably 'legal' for the land owner to do this but what does it say about ecological concerns?
Especially when taking into account the DCC Ecology Comments:
Page 15 of the ecological appraisal report states that ‘due to lack of management the habitats within the development site have become encroached by dense scrub, reducing plant species diversity and associated wildlife value’ – this statement is deemed too ambiguous and does not provide a clear ecological impact assessment upon this designated site.
The report goes further when commenting on trees:
The tree protection plan (Evolve Tree Consultancy, October 2020), indicates that 6 trees (50m) will need to be removed in order to accommodate the development. DCC Ecology Comments: No assessment of the trees to be removed has been provided in the ecological appraisal report. Clarification is required on the ecological value of the trees being removed to facilitate this development.
A site visit (as of this date) has shown that the area covered by the original hoarding has been extended farther south by a width of approximately 10m, pushing closer to the hedge of the southern site boundary.
It's worth noting that the northern boundary hoarding doesn't even have the gap -- that the new southern boundary does have -- between the hoarding and the hedge. Could one of our environmentalists let us know the extent to which this damages the hedge and trees?
Look at the attached photographs. We simply cannot tell if damage has been done, or not. The, rather damning, ecological expert comments would strongly suggest that no-one knows. And therein lies the problem.
Observers of the site (when the ground was cleared) say that the clearing took longer than planned because some "ecology-related" people were pushing sticks into the ground every few feet, as the clearance took place. Curious.
Torbay Council Enforcement Update
Torbay Council has informed Forum member Mike Parkes that his request to look into whether there has been a breach of planning control regulations will "be investigated in due course. The planning service is currently short-staffed and enforcement cases need to be prioritised depending on their severity."
That seems to imply that churning-up thousands of square metres of land before planning approval has been granted is not of high enough 'severity'. Please add your comments if you agree, or not.