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Planning inspectorate to view plans to fence off Yateley Common

Hampshire County Council has applied for an inspectorate to look into plans to fence off Yateley Common to introduce cattle

Young pines growing on Yateley Common

A planning inspectorate is to look at controversial plans to fence off Yateley Common and introduce cattle to the 800 year-old site.

Hampshire County Council wants to install fencing, gates, cattle grids and grazing to Yateley Common Country Park to ‘significantly enhance the management of this internationally important lowland heath’.

The project, expected to cost around £125,000 to complete, has been met with public concern especially regarding future attitudes towards the land.

The decision to apply to the planning inspectorate for planning consent was made by the council’s executive member for culture, recreation and countryside.

The discussion was supposed to be held in September but was deferred after two Yateley county councillors said there were inaccuracies in the plans.

Councillor David Simpson said: “A proper inquiry is needed to chase the facts that many people are concerned about.

“For me the main concern was that we have had the common for 800 years and changes could make it viable to future development. I have been assured it will not.

“I have heard so many things that the changes will do this or that, but it is very hard to come to a fixed conclusion without getting an inspector to properly look into it.”

The Yateley Common management committee looks at how the whole of the site is managed and liaises with Yateley Town Council, Hart District Council and the county council.

At a meeting on November 6, members of the committee voted unanimously for the proposals to progress so that a planning inspectorate could consider the plans in more detail.

Cllr Adrian Collett, town, district and county councillor for Yateley, sits on the management committee alongside Cllr Simpson.

Cllr Collett said: “In my view both the environmental and management cases for grazing are very strong and it is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the detail of the grazing proposal, but there are still a number of issues which local people are very concerned about.

“In particular horse-riders are worried about a number of issues and there is concern about the long-term impact on the perception of the common land status of the land.

“At the Yateley Common management committee we came to the unanimous decision that the right place to consider these issues will be at a planning inquiry as part of the planning inspectorate process, where all views can be properly and fully considered.

“I am therefore pleased that everyone will get a chance to have their concerns considered in the new year.”

According to the county council, the fencing of Yateley Common is required to enable the re-introduction of grazing on the common.

Karen Murray, director of culture, communities and business services for Hampshire, said in her decision report: “Grazing will significantly enhance the management of this internationally important lowland heath.

“Local members and the local management advisory committee have supported the proposals.”

The county council expects to receive a decision from the inspectorate within six months of submitting an application.

If consent is granted then fencing works would be put out to tender for installation by the end of 2014 and the commencement of grazing in 2015.

 

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