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Plans to build on Rounton site dismissed by planning inspector
Residents who opposed a controversial proposal to build 45 homes on a wooded area of Watford have expressed their joy that the project has been dismissed.
Graham Spenser, who has been involved with the residents who fought the plans for the Rounton site, said he was always confident the planning inspector had the right information.
Plans to build in the site off Nascot Wood road were thrown out last week by planning inspector Gyllian Grindey.
Her decision comes after developers appealed a Watford Borough Council decision to refuse the plan back in October last year.
Speaking after the decision Mr Spenser, of Birch Tree Walk, said residents were relieved the decision had gone their way and they just wanted the ancient woodland to be preserved.
He said: "I was always confident the inspector had the right information. Hopefully we can retain as many trees as possible in the area."
Mr Spenser added that the result showed it was worth councillors resisting plans residents opposed, even if they feared having their decision overturned on appeal.
He added: "Some of the things that people said was this was potentially just wasting money.
"The council would spend money and it would be wasted as it is very hard to fight against developers."
The case for the appeal, which was held over late August and early September, hinged on technical arguments about whether the land qualified as ancient semi-natural woodland.
This is classed as "an area that has been wooded since 1600AD".
During the hearing the inspector was told that the area had probably been woodland since around 1200AD.
However various maps and aerial photos produced as evidence showed the woods had been change and cut back at different times thorough its history.
The largest change came in the 1880s when the Victorian estate was built on the site with a mansion, garden and pond.
In her judgement Ms Grindey said although there was alterations to the woodland during the 80 years the estate was there, there was a constant presence of trees.
During the evidence Ms Grindey said it was clear from pictures submitted by residents living near the site that there had been efforts to make it look less wooded in the run-up to the appeal hearing.
She said: "It is clear from letters and photographs of neighbours, sent during the appeal, that, for at least the last year, considerable effort has been made to alter the site.
"There is evidence of lorries, diggers and chippers on the site, stump removal, fires and other works to the area."
The inspector concluded that as far as the general public was concerned the area was woodland.
She also commented that the site could accommodate new housing, but did not need to have as many as 45 new buildings crammed onto it.
Ms Grindey added: "It is my view that the housing does not outweigh the significant adverse impacts which would flow from utilising this site for housing and... particularly as the site could still deliver a reduced amount of housing anyway."
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