Concerns raised over ‘vital’ green spaces in a town being built on
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Concerns have been raised over “green lungs” in Bury St Edmunds being lost as developers try and build on gardens.
Known as infill or backfill developments, a number of applications have come before planners in recent years, with the latest one for a single-storey house in land behind homes in York Road - which is part of a conservation area.
Not only have local residents lodged objections over the application, submitted by Asecho Developments Limited, but Suffolk Wildlife Trust are also worried about the impact on hedgehogs - “a UK and Suffolk Priority species”.
The York Road community has been active in hedgehog conservation, which seems to have led to an increase in numbers in the area, the trust said in its comments on the planning application.
In their objection, residents of the street Rachel Berry and Jonathan Symonds said: “York Road’s Victorian-style garden layout have been a haven for wildlife in the town centre including frogs, foxes and particularly hedgehogs.
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“Whilst the plans acknowledge this and talk about avoiding disturbing nests during building, putting such a large footprinted building in the middle of the traditional hedgehog ranges will divide the ranges and threaten the local population.”
The firm Turley, on behalf of the developer, said in a planning statement the site contains “dilapidated garages” and is “overgrown and unkempt” and subject to fly-tipping, but Ms Berry and Mr Symonds said its unkept nature was “valued by local residents”.
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Parts of the site have previously been associated with various properties and the planning statement said the small southern section of the plot is part of the rear garden land of 88 Queen’s Road.
Conservation officer Claire Johnson said: “The conservation area appraisal notes the contribution made by larger gardens towards the character of the area and that whilst there is a pressure to build in these large gardens ordinarily it will be resisted.”
She added reference to a more recent development to the rear of Queen’s Road was used to support the proposed development “however it would appear that this particular proposal replaced a number of garages together with a mix of hard/soft surfacing and is not directly comparable”.
Green councillor Julia Wakelam said York Road residents were being approached by developers who want to build on their plots, adding properties have sprung up in gardens in the area before.
Ms Wakelam, who is a member of St Edmundsbury’s planning committee, said: “If we build on every last bit of garden land, where are there going to be green spaces in the town? Not just for wildlife, but so people can breathe.”
A spokesman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “A number of these applications have been submitted in recent years and each are determined on their own merits, weighing up the support and objections from all those consulted including local neighbours.”