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We have objected to plans to swap common land at Pendarves Woods Common, a mile south-west of Camborne in Cornwall.
Earlier this year Mr Robert Weedon applied to the Secretary of State for Environment for retrospective consent for works on common land: part of a sand-school, parking areas and track, fuel pumps and tank, and post-and-rail fencing. The works had been constructed over a period since 2008. The society and others objected and he withdrew the application and instead applied to offer some land in exchange for the common which has been unlawfully developed.
The society has objected to the new application because the proposed replacement land is inferior to that to be taken. The matter is determined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the environment secretary.
We consider that the inspector should view the site as though the unlawful works were not present, and should compare the release and replacement land on that basis.
We maintain that the proposed exchange is contrary to the public interest and to the interests of the neighbourhood for a number of reasons.
The release land was mature woodland, a good-quality, biodiverse habitat with a UK designation for the woodland. It is remote and tranquil, not being bordered by a road.
The replacement land is poor-quality, bare land next to a road and part of an adjacent site which was recently acquired by the applicants as a development site. As a former mine, much of the land is contaminated. It is hard to believe that it will be possible to establish a wildflower meadow here, as proposed by the applicant, and even less likely that it would support a woodland (which it needs to do to make it comparable to the release land). If these changes cannot occur, the land will continue to be poor-quality and boring. This is contrary to the public interest in nature conservation, landscape and public access. It is also contrary to the interests of the neighbourhood, ie local people who wish to walk here.
We have asked the Planning Inspectorate to reject the application and inform the applicant that he should reinstate the existing common.