Development disaster at Raithwaite

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Must we sit and watch the continuing destruction of our natural environment and landscape by yet another group of wealthy asset-strippers?

The owners of the Raithwaite Estate are unsurprisingly not content to take a tranquil retreat in an attractive and unspoilt setting and turn it into a fancy hotel, but now intend to extend the enterprise and create an up-market holiday camp.

The tragedy here is that a hitherto pristine semi-natural wooded valley will be trashed and degraded to support the investment by a company that can only see a quick profit. Natural broadleaf woodland is a rare commodity in the local area and is confined to the deeply incised valleys on the coastal fringe that are too steep to have been claimed for agricultural land or building in the past.

This particular organisation has made its intention quite clear by shoe-horning 69 houses into a corner of that small strip of land, which is just outside the National Park boundary. The ancient woodland site, typified by certain indicator species will be transformed into ‘woodland dog-walks’ with significant disruption to wildlife. It is interesting to note that the firm of ecological consultants has failed to give any evidence of having conducted a meaningful and physical ecological survey of the terrain. There are details of what is largely a ‘desktop’ survey that shows what the firm has gleaned from secondary and rather inadequate sources.

This is only the next phase of development. Despite the government’s fine words about encouraging biodiversity, the relaxation of planning regulations will herald further incursions into the remaining undeveloped parts of the estate, including the area that is within the National Park. At least we have the opportunity to voice our concerns, although examining the track record of Scarborough Borough Council Planning Committee it is an uphill struggle against the persistent, well-heeled and influential developers.

Paul Taylor, Heather Drive, Whitby by email