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The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has refused consent to Mr James Wright for a conifer hedge on registered common land at the former Old Chequers pub near Flamstead in Hertfordshire. The society and Flamstead Parish Council were among the nine objectors to the application for works on common land, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006.
The 97-metre long hedge has already been planted and therefore the application was retrospective. It was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate in October 2011 but Mr Wright appealed to the court and the decision was quashed. The application was reconsidered by the Planning Inspectorate and the decision was made by Alison Lea on behalf of the environment secretary.
Ms Lea rejected the application which has an adverse effect on highway safety by restricting visibility at a bend in the road. It also interferes with the enjoyment of the land by the neighbourhood and the public at large, because it prevents views of the common which should be an open landscape, and it restricts public access. The conifers, of the species Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar), are non-native and appear to be out of keeping in this location.
We are delighted at the inspector’s forthright and unequivocal rejection of this application. The hedge is an eyesore on this attractive common which is loved by local people and restricts the lovely open feeling there. The conifers are ugly and suburban and totally out of keeping with the surroundings.
Since the hedge has been refused consent it is unlawful. We trust that Mr Wright will remove it forthwith, otherwise we shall press Hertfordshire County Council to ensure it is uprooted.