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SEATON: Hotel plans refused after ‘bat report’ is missed out

Friday, 24 January 2014

PLANNING?officers have refused a proposal for a new hotel and luxury lodges at Seaton?Heights after developers failed to provide an assessment of how the development would impact on the local bat population.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) planning officers last week refused Lyme Bay Leisure’s planning application for a state-of-the-art boutique hotel, 38 luxury rental lodges, a hotel, a gym, a spa and a restaurant. It is estimated that the project would bring about 40 jobs when and if completed.
The company aims to submit a new application, but says the decision “seriously jeopardizes” the project as it brings unplanned for holding costs, estimated at £50,000 a month.
Lyme Bay Leisure chairman David Sullivan said: “The delays are costing us in the region of £50k per month.
“As a small, new business this is a major blow, which we may not be able to withstand.”
The refusal was based on the lack of a bat impact assessment, as requested by Natural England.
The decision to refuse planning permission was taken by officers under delegated powers, not by the Development Management Committee.
In the decision notice, officers wrote: “Inadequate information has been submitted to allow an informed assessment of the impact of the development, both in isolation and in combination with other proposed developments in the vicinity, on protected species (bats).”
But Lyme Bay Leisure says the need for such an assessment came very late.
Mr Sullivan explained: “Had we been asked to do this earlier we would have got on with it and included our response in the application.
“Unfortunately, the request coming at the eleventh hour has meant that we have passed the window for undertaking such studies as the bats are now hibernating.
“The studies can only be undertaken over the summer, setting back our build programme by at least six months but, more significantly, this is decimating the financial viability of the project involving us in unplanned for holding costs and other major expenses.”
He had hoped to reach a compromise agreement with EDDC, which would have meant planning consent being given subject to the outcome of the assessment.
If that had been the case, Lyme Bay Leisure could have started a non-demolition phase of the project certain not to affect bats.
Mr Sullivan praised local support for the project, and concluded: “Obviously we are hugely disappointed.”


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