Centuries-old Chesterton Windmill could be the “showstopper” which halts the planned new town of Gaydon/Lighthorne Heath in its tracks, according to campaign group FORSE.
An Examination in Public into Stratford District Council’s Core Strategy, which finished last week, was told that the GLH development would cause the Windmill’s setting irremediable harm.
When the debate got under way, Government planning inspector Peter Drew told developers and SDC that he was “disappointed” that their preliminary heritage assessment failed even to acknowledge the Windmill’s existence.
FORSE chair Cllr Laura Steele said later that the new estate, stretching across the southern skyline, would devastate its principal vista forever.
She said: “If the policies set down by Government are followed correctly, then Chesterton Windmill will be the Grade 1 Heritage Asset which stops GLH in its tracks.
“This is no ordinary Windmill. This landmark has stood for 380 years and its environment is as important as its architecture, built as it was to enhance the landscape, not just for its practical use.
“Should GLH go ahead that environment would be devastated. The first thing the eye would see upon approaching the Windmill would be a sprawling new town rather than beautiful, open, rural landscape, and its principal vista would be destroyed for evermore.”
Cllr Steele said the importance of preserving and protecting heritage assets is enshrined in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
During the hearings it was also revealed that the developers plan to move thousands of tons of earth over a period of years to construct the “Great Bund of Gaydon”, running directly across the principal view from the Windmill, in an attempt to protect GLH residents from thunderous M40 noise.
Promoters for the GLH project said this would help with any potential noise pollution. And in terms of noise pollution, they said their figures are more accurate than those conducted on behalf of FORSE.
Before the examination got under way, Government inspector Mr Drew walked to the Windmill itself to get a personal view of the situation. He then returned to the site afterwards to walk along the footpaths again, to see how the new town would fit in among the landscape.
More than 2,300 people have signed a Government e-petition calling on Westminster politicians to save Chesterton Windmill.