‘Artificial’ lake plans are vetoed by national park authority

A kidney-shaped lake proposed for a countryside location near Chichester would look ‘artificial’ in a historic parkland setting, the South Downs National Park Authority has ruled.

Permission for the scheme was refused by the authority’s planning committee, after considering a detailed report by director of planning Tim Slaney.

Members heard the lake was proposed for parkland grounds at Watergate House, in Locksash Lane, West Marden. It would have a surface area of 11,350 sq metres and a perimeter of 500m.

There was no objection from Stoughton Parish Council or the Environment Agency. The report said applicant Brian Baker claimed the lake would complement and enhance the currently degraded historic landscape.

“However, such lakes are not a feature of the area and are very unusual due to the underlying geology,” it added. “It would clearly be viewed as a manmade feature in the landscape.”

The ‘artificial and engineered’ appearance would be harmful to the natural landscape and distinctive character of the area, and the historic parkscape.

“In the absence of a management plan/strategy for the whole parkland, it has not been satisfactorily demonstrated how the lake, groundworks and planting would integrate into the existing landscape and character area” said the report. “It has not been demonstrated how the lake will be filled and water levels maintained and managed.

“This would have implications on the appearance of the lake which would be compounded during periods of drought when the engineered margins of the lake would be exposed.”

The benefits of increased biodiversity were acknowledged but they would be undermined by the stocking of fish within the lake.

It had also not been demonstrated the catchment of water would not have consequences for the biodiversity further downstream of the River Ems.