PERMISSION has been granted to replace a historic water meadow in Upper Clatford with three ponds.

The project, which aims to create a wetland scheme to offset increased nitrates resulting from new residential developments, faced objections from Upper Clatford Parish Council.

The plan outlines the creation of three ponds connected to the Pillhill Brook, situated adjacent to the Upper Clatford Conservation Area.

The proposed wetland scheme is part of a nitrate neutrality initiative, designed to strip nitrates from the watercourse.

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These nitrate credits would then be allocated to future residential developments to counteract any rise in nitrate levels.

In addition to the ponds, the proposal includes the creation of a new footpath through the site.

While Natural England objected to the plan due to a lack of sufficient information, Andover Ramblers supported the proposal on the condition that the footpath be made public.

The application was brought before the northern area planning committee of Test Valley Borough Council on Thursday, November 24, after the Upper Clatford Parish Council objected to the plans.

Parish council chairman, Peter Heslop, expressed concerns about the applicant potentially abandoning the project after "creating the ponds and disturbing the pristine water meadow".

He said: “Natural England's objection states ‘further information is required in order to demonstrate the scheme can provide effective mitigation for developments requiring nutrient neutrality. So we have concern on it and the volume of nitrate credits at this point it will generate'.”

Ward member and TVBC Cllr Maureen Flood spoke in support of the parish council.

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She said: “There are no specific policies that are relevant to this proposal. And I think it might be worth us as councillors looking at our policy, perhaps with regards to what we could do about proposals such as this. Again, I echo the parish council chairman’s concerns about how this site will be managed and paid for in the long term.”

Supporting the application, former councillor Tony Burley said: “This application was registered in 2021. While it is an unusual type of application, there's no reason for it taking so long to be decided. The applicant should be commended for his patience.”

In a debate preceding the decision, Cllr Luigi Gregori sought clarification on the current state of the site, questioning whether it still functioned as a water meadow.

Officers confirmed that it was indeed a historic water meadow that had been devoid of water for the past two centuries.

The final decision saw eight councillors voting in favour of the proposal, while two opposed it.