Landowners called Police to disperse a peaceful protest in Bembridge on Monday when around 20 local residents tried to prevent mains electricity supply boxes being installed along Love Lane.
The protesters were concerned that the work was being carried out in advance of a planning application being decided for two one-bedroom holiday lodges in historic woodland in the peaceful lane. The application has already attracted over 100 objections, many on the grounds that the lodges would destroy the peace and tranquillity of the protected woodland, disturb rare wildlife and there there is no turning space along the narrow road for emergency vehicles.
The company which made the application, Love Lane IOW, was formed in October last year after the land was purchased at auction. Planning documents say that the lodges will fit in the woodland setting with timber cladding and living moss roofs.
Comments on the Bembridge Community Notice Board Facebook page claim that two local residents, former Island High Sheriff, Peter Grimaldi, and Sir Ian Cheshire, had hoped to purchase the land and donate it back to the community, protected by a covenant, but they were outbid by the eventual purchaser.
The Bembridge Parish Council meeting on Tuesday (March 9) voted unanimously to oppose the proposals, which it says breaches the Bembridge Neighbourhood Development Plan (BNDP). Councillor Richard Weaver said: “I’m not on the parish planning committee, but there are a multitude of material considerations why this shouldn’t go ahead. These have now been put forward by the parish council in line with our development plan.
“This might make somebody a quick buck, but that would be at the expense of ancient woodland. It’s one part of the village which is totally unspoilt. As a boy I loved watching the seasons change there. This certainly shouldn’t be approved and the local authority should be supporting neighbourhood development plans.”
Isle of Wight councillor, Michael Murwill is also objecting. He said: “I have not come across a planning application that breaches so many of the BNDP policies. If this application is approved by the planners, it makes a mockery of the BNDP and questions why parish councils were encouraged to spend residents’ money on them in the first place.
“Apart from the questions of emergency access to the site and the issue of drainage, this is a key natural place of beauty that the local habitat depends upon. It is my hope that, after looking at all the facts and advice from the local experts, the IWC planning officers make the right decision in this matter and reject the application.”
Previous applications have been rejected. But the Isle of Wight Council has been sanctioned by the government because it has not built enough houses over the past three years. It now has to apply a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’, making it more difficult to turn down planning applications that are ‘sustainable’.
Comments can be made on the application on the IW Council’s planning portal under refence 21/00224/FUL until March 19.