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Agenda item

23/02917/FUL Land South of Ramsden Akeman Street


Joan Desmond, Principal Planning Officer, introduced the application for the installation of a ground mounted solar PV, energy storage system together with associated infrastructure: security fencing, CCTV, access track, cable route, landscaping and onsite biodiversity net gain.


The Principal Planning Officer drew the Sub-Committee’s attention to the Additional Representation Report and made the following comments; the agent had submitted further letters asking for more time to consider the application, however as set out in the planning protocol, it would be up to Members to hear the application as set out for the Sub-Committee present at this time. There were additional objections from Hailey Parish Council, additional letters of objection, including comments from Solar Park Action Group (SPAG) and comments from Cotswold National Landscape Board.


Mr Steve Maclennan, Chair of Ramsden Parish Council, addressed the Sub-Committee in objection to the application and provided clarification regarding flooding and where rainwater would flow to with solar panels in situ. Water related problem hotspots such as Delly End were identified.


Mr Peter Saugmann addressed the Sub-Committee in objection to the application and clarified that no community benefits, such the offer to provide local residents with electricity had been forthcoming by the applicant. Also flooding concerns had been brought to the attention of the flooding engineer.


Tim Humpage, applicant, addressed the Sub-Committee and clarified that comments regarding the reduction of size and scale had been taken onboard, particularly with attention to visual impact and a reduced size to the park with an increase in the wattage of fewer solar panels. 


The Planning Officer drew the Sub-Committee’s attention to the following points;

  • Policy EH6 supported the principle of renewable energy development which should seek to minimise adverse impacts on the landscape and historic environment. The NPPF and other Government directives also supported paths for renewable energy.
  • The proposed production of clean energy would power over 6,060 homes and save over 8,600 tons of CO2.
  • The land on the site was classified as Grade 3b which is not classified as ‘Best and Most Versatile’. The site lies within the Wychwood Project area where protection is given to landscape and biodiversity.
  • The site was also near to the Cotswold National Landscape area and was considered to have an adverse impact to the setting of the CNL.
  • The site was close to the Ramsden Conservation Area and both Historic England and the Conservation Officer raised objections to the application regarding harm to the significance of the conservation area.
  • The public benefits to the scheme had been acknowledged however it was considered that the harm to the conservation area outweighed those benefits.
  • An archaeological assessment had not been undertaken in line with the agreed written scheme of investigation (WSI).
  • The Ecology Consultant asked for additional information and clarification regarding arable plants, the impact on the ancient woodland, the Wychwood and Evenlode conservation target areas, biodiversity net gain and species surveys. 
  • It was recognised that the scheme would contribute to meeting targets of renewable energy production with reduction to greenhouse gases, however the scheme would be significantly harmful landscape, heritage and biodiversity of the area. There had also been no archaeological assessment undertaken in accordance with the agreed WSI.  The Principal Planning Officer’s recommendation was for refusal of the application for the reasons as set out in the report.


The Chair then invited the Sub-Committee to discuss the application, which raised the following points:

  • The Sub-Committee acknowledged the need for renewable energy however considered that sites would have to be in suitable locations.  Objections regarding conversation and biodiversity were considered valid concerns to the area where the site was proposed.
  • Would it be possible to move the solar panels from the north of the field to the southeast of the field where the cable was running. The Principal Planning Officer confirmed the cabling was new to the application. The Principal Planning Officer advised of the previous application in 2021 where concerns were raised regarding landscape and heritage impacts, these concerns were still not addressed in the application before the Sub-Committee.
  • Late comments from the Cotswold National Landscape Board were included in the additional representations report, however they had made objections to the application in 2021. All comments were included in the report with regards to protecting the Cotswold National Landscape setting.


Councillor Lysette Nicholls proposed that the application be refused in line with officer recommendations. This was seconded by Councillor Nick Leverton, was put to the vote. There were 12 votes in favour and 2 abstentions. The vote was carried. Councillor Andrew Prosser requested his abstention vote be recorded in the minutes.


The Sub-Committee Resolved to:

  1. Refuse the application, in line with officer recommendations.