|Concern that visitor centre will spoil 'wildness' that makes Spurn special|
Prof Peter Knight (Leeds): I strongly object to this application. This plan submitted by YWT is very similar to an earlier one that was rejected. As a member of YWT myself, I am embarrassed and annoyed that YWT is spending yet more time and money pursuing this flawed plan rather than on wildlife conservation. The new building and the associated car park will degrade the amenity value of the area for tourism by spoiling its wildness and will damage the fragile ecology of the surrounding area. Before the irrevocable breach of the Spurn peninsula in December, 2013, visitors and their vehicles were distributed throughout the peninsula, and
the inconspicuous, small visitor centre at the base of the peninsula made sense as a means of
controlling access and providing information. What the proposed visitor centre would do is
concentrate visitors into a much smaller area as most visitors will stay within a few hundred
metres of the centre and its new car park, and not undertake the risky walk across the breach.
This concentration of footfall will cause both severe erosion of the plant communities and greater disturbance to the wildlife for which this area is internationally renowned. YWT apparently recognise these problems that their proposed centre would create as they have commented on the desirability of restricting public access to the sea wall (Canal Bank) that in my experience is not currently problematic. I would welcome a YWT visitor centre built adjacent to the Kilnsea Wetlands reserve which is on the approach road into Kilnsea from Easington. This reserve already has car parking and is an area with less fragile ecology, and it is where a sympathetic new building would have less adverse visual impact. Disturbance by visitors is already minimised by the embankment surrounding the reserve and by the provision of hides, which could be enlarged. An added bonus for a visitor centre at Kilnsea wetlands is that road traffic through Kilnsea village would diminish, whereas the current proposal would increase traffic. There would thus be no need to consider introducing new parking restrictions. Thus I support the concept of a YWT Visitor Centre as a tourist attraction in the Spurn area, and as a means to raise public awareness of (and funding for) YWT and its many good works, but I strongly object to the proposed site.
Robert Adams (Crowle): The new submission has failed to address adequately the issues of flood risk and visual impact. It is very difficult to see what new has been added to this submission other than providing a small amount of supporting documentation to explain the flood risk assessment and a few extra words to elaborate on the visual impact assessment. Hardly a considered and detailed response from a professional body to try and address the two main issues on which the last submission was unanimously rejected. I would suspect the main reason for this is the fact that, yes, the proposal is without doubt at serious risk of flooding and, yes, it does impact on the natural landscape of the area and the reasons for this are LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! The YWT are trying to build this development in an area that is both subject to flooding and smack bang in the middle of very scarce habitat that provides food and shelter for hundreds of thousands of migrant birds each and every year. It is clear to me and I hope to the planning committee that you will never be able to address those two key issues satisfactorily until you move the centre into either an existing structure or on a new site away from the disturbance of Spurn's Wildlife ..... a place that will have least impact on the things that makes Spurn the magical place it is. Building on point once above, this latest application has once again been very dismissive of the possibility of building elsewhere. There is a only a rather cursory consideration of the pros and cons of Southfield Farm, much in the same light as the earlier dismissal of an extended Blue Bell cafe. These are much more established and favoured options that neatly follows the major desire in the area to utilise existing structures rather than adopt a new build policy. The claim on page 7 of the design and access statement that the new centre will enable the trust to re-naturalise the Warren area that "now contains a range of derelict buildings" is flawed because these buildings were all demolished some 10 months ago, having been condemned as usable structures in 2010 due to the presence of asbestos. It is a matter of health and safety that has driven the action to remove these buildings not the construction of a new visitors centre. The claim that the centre will contribute £20m to the local economy per annum is grossly exaggerated and, as such, fundamentally flawed. The main reason for this is the anticipated visitor numbers range from 20,000 to 70,000 which means each visitor would be spending anywhere between £286 and £1,000 to make these numbers work. Highly unlikely when the main reason for visiting Spurn and its surrounding area is to enjoy the wildlife and natural beauty of the area and not to be spending money. The centre in its present design is largely a glorified café with precious little other facilities for enhancing peoples knowledge and enjoyment of the area. Most other comparable centres constructed in the UK provide more than just a tea shop from where people learn more about nature and want to engage in the same. Clearly the chosen site of Triangle Field very much limits what can be offered but move it to an existing building or buildings or an area well away from interference with the wildlife of the area then the job of what a visitor centre is designed to do can be delivered. So the problem again with this proposal is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! The finances with regard to the operation of the centre are fragile which on a volatility scale for business planning are unworkable. In summary, I would ask the planning committee to reject unanimously this application.
Mr Tim Cowley (Beverley): I have followed Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's visitor centre project from before its July 2015 public meeting in Easington, chaired by Graham Stuart MP. I also attended original East Riding Council application hearing in July 2016, when the planning sub-committee committee unanimously rejected the proposal. I have been a member of YWT for 35+ years. I am extremely concerned about the YWT board's persistence in this matter, which is opposed by many of the Easington and Kilnsea residents (witnessed by Graham Stuart MP) as well as majority of frequent visitors to the reserve. In my opinion, as a regular visitor, the greater risk is from visitor disturbance that will impact on tired migratory birds using area to rest and feed. The topography of the Humber and coast funnel birds to that area and therefore - as a conservation body - YWT should be safeguarding wildlife . Its members would certainly expect YWT to object to someone else developing the same spot (double standards?). With regards to attracting the Spingwatch/Autumnwatch generation and a latte, the existing Blue Bell cafe sells refreshments, including coffee.