Fifth Day of the Inquiry

Day spent listening to St Modwen’s ecologist and landscape/open space consultants denigrate the value of the Station Rd site by reducing its value to ‘agricultural land crossed by one public right of way’, and suggestions that the associated landscaping work associated with the Sainsbury’s superstore will in fact enhance the environmental qualities of the SR site, and that the Audley Avenue site does not have less environmental value than SR! The star turn was St Modwen’s consultant planner, who was excellently led through his evidence by their QC. We have now at last got to the nub of why the planning application has been called in by the Sec of State – the Inspector needs to decide how much weight to give the brownfield case for AA and whether this should override the marginally better access (by foot) and greater clawback potential (of the Newport shopping ‘exodus’ to predominantly Asda at Donnington) of the SR site. Given the constant refs to the Village Green decision and the Audley Avenue Inspector’s decision re the value of the site as an area of open space, a really key issue is the value of the open space for recreational purposes. St Modwen’s are looking to paint a picture which suggests the site has very little worth as an area of open space, and its predominant use is by walkers using a single public right of way. Clearly the VG evidence refutes that assertion.

Tomorrow the Audley Avenue QC and the Co-op’s legal counsel will cross-examine St Modwen’s planning consultant, so I would encourage you to attend if you are able, as these will be critical cross examinations.

Also, it would be good to have a full house on Friday afternoon to support those local people who will be giving evidence to the Inquiry. This is an additional slot granted by the Inspector, so we are looking to make maximum use of it.

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