Ecological concerns raised as hedgerows removed on 1,150 home development in Haverhill
The removal of a number of hedgerows, some of them species rich, to make way for the 1,150 home development north west of Haverhill has provoked complaints from concerned residents.
Concerns around the number of hedgerows being removed by sub-contractors on behalf of Persimmon Homes, the developer building the housing near Boyton Hall, have been reported to the two councillors who represent the area on West Suffolk Council (WSC), Joe Mason and Elaine McManus.
Anne Strachan, whose home in Rowell Close is close to the scheme, is worried about the hedgerows.
Anne said she was alerted to part of a species rich hedgerow, which is listed by West Suffolk Council as being recommended for retention, being removed on November 5 to make way for a new road and swiftly contacted the district council, which told the sub-contractor to stop the work.
Persimmon was fined £15,000 on February 27 for illegally removing an ancient hedgerow on Ann Suckling Road, which runs adjacent to the development site, in March 2019, after legal action was instigated by WSC.
With this in mind, Anne said: “The point is, I think there is a bigger picture here.
“There is a huge problem with continuous complaints about what they are doing.They are supposed to have reinstated the ancient hedgerow and they’ve not even put that back yet.
“They got a £15,000 fine for the ancient hedgerow removal. It’s nothing compared to what they gain profit wise from the development.”
The hedgerow removal on November 5 was done as part of the preparations for the start of Phase 2A of the development, comprising 41 new properties – but that phase was only fully approved yesterday at the WSC development control committee meeting.
Overall, the scheme is made up six phases of housing.
The first one has received full planning approval and many houses have already been completed and a number of them are now occupied.
Anne added: “They have done it before it was approved and why have they done it before it was approved?
“We’ve got no trust whatever in Persimmon. Every time i hear a machine out there I think they are going to be taking more hedgerows out.”
Cllr Mason said: “I’m keen to work with Persimmon and West Suffolk Council to see we get the development that we want.
“I’m incredibly appreciative of local residents who aren’t kicking off because there is a housing development, but because they are concerned because there’s a loss of (wildlife) habitat and are wanting to make sure we are not in the same position as before and that we have not lost something needlessly.”
A report, prepared as part of the planning process, examined the importance of hedgerows on the development site and had, said Cllr Mason, ‘made it clear’ which hedgerows were identified as being of importance ecologically and which had not.
He added: “Some of the important hedgerows, parts of them, have already been taken out and residents quite rightly felt that this was pre-emptive of actually being given final planning approval for the site.”
Cllr Mason also said he wanted to reassure those residents concerned about the issue, adding: “I support them in their concerns about the loss of habitat but also I am thanking them for monitoring and bringing it to my attention.
“We want to try and minimise the amount of hedgerows that are lost and that any plans that are approved are adhered to.
“Once it’s gone its very difficult to get it back.
“None of the residents are resistant to the planning development.
“What we want to see is that it is done sympathetically.”
A spokesman for West Suffolk Council said: “The masterplan for the site acknowledged that some hedgerow removal may be necessary for road access and the current application does include the removal of section of hedgerow to facilitate a main access road.
“Replacement hedgerow planting and other biodiversity enhancements will be included in the final planting details for this application, which are secured by a planning condition.”
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Suffolk said: “Part of a hedgerow has been removed to facilitate the construction of a road serving phase 2 of the Haverhill development.
“The route of this road had previously been accepted in principle by the council and a recommendation of approval of the application was made in the officers report to the Planning Committee, which subsequently approved the application.
“Persimmon will be submitting details of compensatory landscaping as part of the landscaping plan required at this site.”