An ancient woodland in Linchmere has been 'destroyed' in renovation works that took place prior to a planning application.
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Works began in October last year to renovate a pond in Boxhall's Moor including the reinstatement of a weir and resulted in the felling of trees.
A planning application was submitted retrospectively (SDNP/18/05568/FUL) but was refused by South Downs National Park planning authority on the grounds that it would lead to the loss of 'significant amount' of ancient woodland and no exceptional circumstances had been identified by the applicant to justify its loss.
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In one objection letter, Christopher and Diana Summers said: "Clearly, as this is a retrospective application, there is little point in objecting to the work carried out as the damage has already been done to the site."
Hilary Adair said she was 'deeply concerned' by the renovation. She said: "As a result of the recent works, the site has been irrevocably altered – disturbed, damaged and ultimately destroyed.
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"A considerable lack of understanding, and a substantial degree of insensitivity, has been demonstrated in undertaking this work when stating that the area would be returned to its former ‘natural’ state.
"Since no previous appraisal of any sort was undertaken, this ‘natural state’ is pure conjecture based on an entirely subjective and unsubstantiated opinion of what is ‘natural’, or what constitutes natural habitat on this site."