Village development might yet go ahead
By Liz HearnshawWORK on a long-awaited multi-million-pound redevelopment designed to transform a village looks likely to go ahead - despite fears a colony of rare wasps could have halted the project.
By Liz Hearnshaw
WORK on a long-awaited multi-million-pound redevelopment designed to transform a village looks likely to go ahead - despite fears a colony of rare wasps could have halted the project.
A plan for a new school, hundreds of homes and community facilities in Red Lodge looked in jeopardy after rare species of insects and plants were found on one proposed building site in Turnpike Road.
Experts from English Nature had hoped to designate the area as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
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But the experts have now said they could not determine whether the invertebrates present on the site, which include rare five-banded tailed digger wasps, constituted “special interest”.
They said further investigation would be needed before the case could be presented as a possibility for specialist status - adding they now intended to work with Forest Heath District Council and developers on a solution.
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Gareth Dalglish, area manager for English Nature, said: “One of the good things to come out of this is that both the developers and English Nature have agreed to seek a solution that works and meets the principles of sustainability.
“We hope that means Red Lodge can have houses, shops and a school and the whole village gains a wonderful area of open space rich in wildlife which will add to the quality of life for everyone - including the wildlife itself.”
A spokesman for English Nature added it was recommending the council should take account of the importance of the site before deciding any planning applications relating to the land.
A spokesman for the council said: “Obviously we want these issues resolved. We are anxious that the development proceeds quickly, if possible, because it means much-needed homes for the people of Forest Heath.”
The wasps were discovered on land earmarked for a new school as part of the development.
An alternative site, in Warren Road, has been agreed in the event of English Nature's bid for Site of Special Scientific Interest status becoming a success.