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Arreton woes

Arreton Manor grounds Arreton Manor grounds Photo: Wikimedia Commons

November 2014

Arreton village is beset with developments whether wanted or not.

The new anaerobic digester plant is becoming very visible above that huge earth bank piled up alongside the main road that verges Gore Cemetery. Little attention seems to have been made about the stability of the soil and many ravines down the embankment are now evident, caused by the incessant monsoon-like rains we have had had during the previous few weeks. Probably not long before a major mudslip occurs, we think. Is it all worthwhile and beneficial to the local community? We didn’t like it but the Planning Department did.

At the other end of Arreton, a newly approved solar farm is due to spring up behind the Suzuki Garage on land that is part of Hale Manor Farm and which used to be prime agricultural soil until gravel excavations and infill ruined it for ever. The planning application was based on the re-use of this down-graded pastureland but Council Planning Officers discovered that one of the earmarked fields had never been excavated and was still worthy of crop production. Approval for the development was given but the useful land was not included in the project. The generated energy from the solar panels will be fed to the overhead rural power network but this may cause a problem in itself. Scottish and Southern Energy have recently concluded that the system is reaching saturation point and will be incapable of accepting much more power from these sources without a massive upgrade in the system. SSE are suggesting that future solar farm developers may have to pay for the upgrade work thus making the money-making schemes less attractive to investors. An example of natural limitation forces at work? Again, CPRE put over their views.

If these two developments were not enough for the villagers to contend with, there is a bigger, more pressing project looming for them—the new housing estate. This year we saw not one but two proposals for a large housing estate to be built onto the landscape that is Haseley Manor and its locale. One proposal was for 40 houses, the other was for 89 dwellings. CPRE assisted the local residents with their outcry against these intrusive plans. One thing that had not been properly done was a local Housing Needs Survey and we encouraged the community to get this finalised. There were hiccups along the way but finally it was completed. Result? Not so many houses would be needed over the next few years as the Planning Applications would have us believe. The IW Council agreed and Refused both projects. An Appeal was launched by the developer and a Planning Inspector came to the Island for an enquiry. Evidence was submitted to the Inspector from both camps, a site visit was made by him and he went away to consider his verdict. We all expected that probably the smaller development would be approved but were shocked and surprised by the announcement that BOTH proposals had been given consent.

This outcome is now the future of the village. In a single stroke, the appearance and prospect of the area will be altered beyond recognition. Despite the evidence of an inadequate public transport system that is already incapable of providing a service to residents; school buses already filled to capacity; a local school with few additional places for an influx of new pupils and very few amenities in the village for any greatly expanded population, the permission to swamp the area with an estate of unsympathetic houses is totally out of any expectation. CPRE did its best to assist the village but this result turned out to be yet another example of Localism being ignored by Central Government.

John Langley

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