Plans for the 80 bedroom Premier Inn at Ashburton have been deferred following concerns over the ecological impact of a hotel at the site.
Having met on Friday, 4th October, the Dartmoor National Park Authority Development Management Committee were recommended to refuse the plans, but prior to the discussion Philip Sanders, chairman of the committee, shared that it would instead be deferred until a later date.
The delay comes as Dartmoor National Park has published its ecological survey report which has found that “insufficient information has been submitted to assess the likely impact from the proposed development on bats and likely significant effect on the South Hams Special Area of Conservation”.
The information provided by the planning team was initially insufficient, however late information relating to the Habitat Regulations Assessment has since been put forward. While these further details have been passed to the committee, there has not yet been enough time for officers to review them properly.
Causing the decision to be deferred and prompting a call for further assessments to be carried out, the planning team hope to carry out the further research swiftly in order for the application to be reconsidered in November or December.
For now, there are concerns that the proposed £5.2 million development is contrary to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, amongst other policies.
In order to resolve this uncertainty, it has been recommended by the committee that a bat activity survey is provided. There have also been suggestions to alter the plans so that they include an updated lighting plan which will prevent light spill onto the eastern and south-eastern boundaries and help protect wildlife.
Speaking of the delays to the firm’s plans, Paul Smith, Acquisition Manager at Premier Inn, said “We were asked to provide this additional ecological information, including bat surveys, following consultation with the Park’s ecologist during the consideration of our planning application.
‘The timings of the surveys – which had to be undertaken a fortnight apart – meant that the final report was submitted relatively close to the committee date. Deferring the decision allows DNPA more time to review this important information.
‘The full ecology report is available online on the planning pages of Dartmoor National Park’s website.”