Man told he can’t build track through Gower woods to save him two-mile journey

A path planned through woodland in Caswell has been turned down by Swansea Council, which said there was no reasonable justification for it.

The application was for a 98-metre track through Bishop’s Wood to provide a link between applicant, CK’s supermarket chain boss Christopher Kiley’s house off Caswell Road to a small-holding he owns to the north.

A planning statement on his behalf said there was currently no safe way to access the sloping woodland, which consequently meant a two-mile car journey to get to the fields, horses and stables above. The statement described the proposed track as modest, not readily visible from public vantage points, and that it would blend in with the landscape because plants and grass would be able to grow through it.

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It added: “Access tracks are common features in countryside locations such as this and the development is considered a modest addition which will have an acceptable impact on the wider Gower AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty).”

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Twelve small to medium-sized trees were identified for felling to facilitate the track. An arborcultural report submitted as part of the application described them as low or poor quality trees, and added that some replacement planting would be needed. The report said that measures could be taken to prevent damage to retained trees, and also referred to mitigation for excavation work already carried out there.

An ecological assessment was also carried out. It said the woodland strip in question was of “moderate ecological value”, but that mitigation for birds and reptiles assumed to be there was required.

Bishopston Community Council was among the objectors. It said the planned track ran adjacent to an existing path and was therefore not required. The community council also felt the proposal was “environmentally unacceptable” and would damage trees.

The Gower Society said the proposal should be rejected because of its “possible undesirable impact upon the AONB and the prominent coastal slope”.

Members of the public who objected said they felt a strip of woodland should not be put at risk for one person’s benefit, especially because there was a footpath close by. Others said work already carried out there had resulted in a negative impact on the environment. Council planning officers noted there were 154 objections to the application.

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Swansea Council’s tree officer and head of transport and engineering opposed the application, the latter saying the three metre-wide path could withstand vehicles of “robust construction”. Planning officers said the adjacent footpath which ran from Caswell Road was just 10 metres away from the one planned by Mr Kiley and that there was therefore “no reasonable justification or need” for it.

They also said the three-metre width was excessive which, coupled with the loss of 12 trees, would harm the rural character of the site and also fail to conserve or enhance the natural beauty of the AONB. A few days prior to the council’s decision, an agent on behalf of Mr Kiley submitted an appeal for non-determination of the application within the statutory eight-week period.

WalesOnline – Swansea