M54 to M6 Link Road

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

M54 to M6 Link Road

Received 18 May 2020
From Bruton Knowles LLP on behalf of Mrs E Whitehouse and Mrs S L M Arblaster

Representation

We are instructed by Mrs Whitehouse and Mrs Arblaster who are the owners of land directly to the south of the M6 Junction 11 and which is affected by the proposed M54 to M6 Link Road Project. We set out below a summary of the principal submissions we intend to make on behalf of our clients in relation to the application. We feel that there has been a lack of consultation with our clients by Highways England and we have not received any meaningful response to the issues in our Consultation Response Letters sent by us on the 3rd July 2019 and the 11th December 2019 other than a basic acknowledgement and an invitation to a meeting. This highlights the point we make in terms of a lack of proper engagement and why our clients feel that their opinions and concerns are of little importance to Highways England with delivery of the project being their sole priority. Given our clients concerns, at the very least we expected Highways England to have prepared a detailed response in readiness for the meeting which was held on the 25th February 2020. However it soon became apparent during the meeting that the onus appeared to be on ourselves and the client to lead the conversation. Notwithstanding this we raised the following points in the meeting; 1. The Project has an excessive area of land take for Ecological Mitigation with no justification provided. 2. This ecological mitigation takes all our clients land which as Mrs Whitehouse confirmed in the meeting, will cause hardship, with a very significant impact on her farming business. Furthermore, given the location this land will be irreplaceable due to the fact that there is both limited alternative land for sale in the area and where land does become available there is a very high demand from non-farming interests. 3. Given that our clients have farmed this land for many years and have long term knowledge of this location, why have they never been approached to add value to the ecological/technical work that has been undertaken? This surely must be an oversight on the part of Highways England. 4. Our clients’ land is included within an area of land being promoted for commercial development by Nurton Developments. We understand that the Promoter feels (as our clients do) that there has been a singular lack of positive engagement, which is a pity in that constructive dialogue would be in everyone’s best interests as well as use of the land. 5. We have been promised a Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) on several occasions by Highways England but this has not been received. The fact that a SOCG has been agreed with other interested parties including Natural England and not with a landowner whose livelihood is being affected is both a surprise and very disappointing. 6. Our clients stand to lose all their land because of an area of existing ‘ancient woodland’ on their neighbours’ property. The fact that ancient woodland had been identified in this location is a surprise to our client. Firstly, through their own local knowledge and secondly because this area is not designated as such on the Natural England website. We understand this area has only recently been designated ancient woodland through the course of consultation meetings between Highways England and Natural England. Such a decision with no input from our client, particularly given the impact this will have on them, is considered irresponsible.