CONCERNS have been raised over the process that is set to lead to a decision on a contentious plan to create a new nature park on the fringes of Bournemouth.

BCP Council’s revised proposals for the Throop Nature Park at Hicks Farm go before the local authority’s own planning committee tomorrow, August 12.

Today councillors are due to carry out a site visit to assist them in their understanding of the scheme.

However, any member of the planning committee who is unable to make the trip will not be able to take part in the meeting. They have the opportunity to put forward a substitute councillor to attend the site visit in the Muscliff and Strouden Park ward and then take part in the meeting the following day.

A BCP Council spokesperson said: “The council’s adopted protocol for planning committee site visits allows for any member of the committee to request a site visit once the agenda papers have been published.

“The chairman of planning committee, having received a request, agreed to it and the site visit was arranged. The protocol states that if a member of planning committee is unable to attend the site visit, then they would not be able to be part of the meeting.

“Members were advised that if they were unable to attend the site visit then they could consider arranging a substitute to attend in their place, as is the case of any council meeting a member is unable to make.”

Muscliff and Strouden Park ward councillor Lisa Northover called the application in for a committee decision.

She detailed a number of reasons why she had concerns about the scheme.

“The application relates to a sensitive and highly valued area of open countryside that provides long distance views across the River Stour and which facilitates a green, verdant and undeveloped setting to the villages of Throop and Muccleshell,” her submission said.

“The change of use of this area of open countryside to a SANG (suitable alternative natural greenspace) and the introduction of a car park would fail conserve or enhance the features of this landscape that contribute to the areas heritage, character and local distinctiveness, the amenities of surrounding residents and biodiversity.”

Cllr Margaret Phipps, who represents the neighbouring Christchurch Commons ward, said: “I have to say I am unhappy with the way this is looking like it is going to come forward on Thursday.

“How many substitutes will there be? Will they have the planning policy training? Will they be fully aware of the initial application and what has happened before?.”

As reported, the revised Throop Nature Park plan for 12 hectares of green belt land is recommended for approval despite 380 objections. The application comes after an initial scheme was rejected by the planning committee last year.

The council said its current plan would offer a variety of circular walks, semi-natural spaces to explore and space for dogs to exercise.