The Application for development of the Equine Clinic at Poulton Mill was discussed on Monday evening at the Town Council’s Planning Committee meeting. Planning reference: PL/2021/04663
Dr Andre Buthe, owner of the site and applicant along with his wife Dr Christna Ober, was present at the meeting to present the proposals and answer questions from Councillors of the committee and also members of the public present.
During a suspension of Standing Orders Dr Andre Buthe explained in summary details of the application and how the business would operate, which included:
- Providing equine sports medicine to local businesses and international teams
- Working with Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and the Wiltshire Wildlife Fund (WWF) to improve the flow of the Og, replant with native species to improve habitat, and link the proposed Bay Meadows reserve with Stonebridge reserve
- Creating a new access
- New bridges would have supports on land, not in the river
Dr Buthe explained that regarding ecology, they had consulted Louisa Jones from ‘ProVision’ who had worked together with Anna Forbes from ARK to create something together that works together. And in response to the question: ‘Is there any environmental risk?’ he replied “Not from what the experts say that they can do it, no effect on the river itself.” Adding that they had been liaising with ARK (Action for the River Kennet) already to get the input from their side.
It represents a major development for this site, in a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and members of the public present raised issues of traffic, level of development (overdevelopment?) and ecology, whilst also questioning the nature of this land – is it actually a ‘Flood Plain’, or ‘WaterMeadow’, or not either? Also, as it was such a large and substantial – albeit valuable and desirable project, could it not be sited somewhere near but on a ‘brownfield’ site?
Described to marlborough.news by local nearby farmer Andrew Ainsley as a ‘quasi-industrial’ venture, the benefits of which should not be dismissed out of hand, he asked “With several brown-field sites in the local area, should pre – planning reports for the commercial development of these locations be commissioned and tendered before any proposal for development within an AONB is considered?”
He further raised the issue to marlborough.news of effluent – How is the effluent from the site to be prevented from contaminating the rivers?
Dr Buthe responded to public questions about light pollution (roof lights will be covered) and additional traffic. He added in response to questions from Councillors that there would be additional employment opportunity created by this venture, although not outlining the nature of such jobs, nor whether these would be in addition to those already employed by the centre or not.
Charlotte Hitchmough, Director of ARK told marlborough.news: “Fundamentally ARK would prefer that this site was managed for wildlife and not developed. The scale of the development and the disturbance it will cause both during construction and when in operation will be significant, there will be increased risks from pollution, and increased disturbance along the river corridor from two new vehicular access bridges.
“ARK has spoken to Andre about chalkstream management, and we have answered questions from the ecologists about river habitat , but we have not been involved in planning this development and were unaware of it until last week. We recognise that Andre is making every effort to minimise its impact on the environment, reduce flood risk, and to find ways to improve biodiversity on the site. We have agreed to meet Andre to learn more about his project and will comment formally through the planning system. Gary Mantle CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust confirmed that his position is the same i.e. the Wildlife Trust have not endorsed or supported the planning application, but they have agreed to a meeting to discuss how the river corridor could be best managed.”
Resident Martin Ephson raised the issues of the conversion of what is there at present to a business of a different scale (1,000 sq m of new buildings – one of which will be 60m long and 7 meters in height – two bridges over the River Og, all of this to be done in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty without any application for change of use. He added that traffic will undoubtedly increase, significantly from the current stated level of 40 vehicle movements per day.
He added that as a member of the equine community, a horse owner and lover, that he was ‘all for an equine centre of excellence’, adding ‘just not on the first green space between the Town of Marlborough and the Parish of Mildenhall, in the midst of a residential area, on the banks of a sensitive river..
This venture is currently out to consultation (until 29 July) and details can be reached via the link at the top of this piece – PL/2021/04663.
The Planning Committee voted to support the application ‘subject to satisfactory environmental reports, consideration of its setting in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, consideration of the amenities for neighbouring residents in particular with reference to scale and impact of the largest proposed building (barn), and would ask for conditions to ensure mitigation against noise and light pollution.’