Dismay over plans for ‘temporary’ visitor centre on undeveloped heritage coast

ELF was approached last year by Ian Smith, vice chair of the Spurn Bird Observatory very concerned about Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s application to build a visitor centre at Spurn, a spit of undeveloped Heritage Coast on the Humber Estuary. The centre would be a ‘temporary’ two-storey structure with a 76 space car park.

Spurn, a stretch of wild coast that is a haven for migratory birds, in both autumn and spring, attracts many visitors and is popular with local people.

With the usual raft of international and national nature designations, local planning rules also apply to protect it from development that is classed as permanent.

Refused last year over flooding and landscape concerns, an amended application was granted planning permission on 30th January 2017. The applications have attracted much local ire and the applicant seemingly unmoved by the strength of local opposition, pressed ahead with its plans.

In this instance both Natural England and the RSPB have been working with the applicant to approve the plans. However, there are other local organisations, especially within the bird watching community who are not convinced that the shadow Habitats Regulation Assessment produced by the applicant which concludes that there will be no significant environmental effects, is correct.

Having undertaken their own investigations they conclude that the building and car park, sited within the Spurn Heritage Coast, will not be without its impacts.

ELF has sought advice from Andrew Parkinson at Landmark Chambers on the merits of a challenge to the decision. We are particularly interested in whether it was appropriate to consider the building a ‘temporary’ structure.