Villagers take on developers over future of wood
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY
Residents of Ixworth near Bury St Edmunds are worried that some much-loved woodland could be lost as one of Britain's biggest developers make plans for a new housing estate in the village.
The woodland was planted beside the A143 bypass in 2006 in a bid to introduce a barrier between the fast road and the village - but now it has been fenced off and residents fear more than half the trees could be for the chop.
But Persimmon Homes has said no tree works will take place in the immediate future - and talks are due with planners over its housing proposals.
Green Ixworth chair Roger Spiller said there were fears that only 1,400 of the 3,500 trees planted by the then St Edmundsbury Council and Ixworth parish in 2006 might survive.
Persimmon Homes had withdrawn an application to build 90 homes on the site - West Suffolk Council has said the site should be used to build 70 new homes - but villagers feared they might come back with another bid for more homes.
And they feared the woodland could be first turned into agricultural land, which would not need planning permission, before it was later developed.
Mr Spiller said: ”We wonder whether this latest move is a way of pre-empting another planning application by getting rid of the trees as an 'agricultural improvement' thus increasing the land available for building.
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"It would also remove a small piece of woodland paid for by local taxpayers in a forward looking move, without any attempt to consult with the parish council or local people.”
Mr Spiller said Green Ixworth was not opposed to the land being developed, but expected the developer to conform to high environmental standards.
It has written to Persimmon seeking to work with them in preserving and enhancing the existing trees and hedges on the site, most of which will have to be retained as a screen for the development.
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Suffolk said: “Until further discussions have taken place with the Local Planning Authority regarding submission of a revised planning application, no tree or vegetation works will take place in the immediate future.”