Housing development at centre of wildlife row recommended to get green light despite delay and 59 objections

Planning chiefs are being told to give the go-ahead to a Hartlepool housing development at the centre of a row over the use of controversial wildlife netting.

Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 4:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 4:15 pm
The hedge off Worset Lane being cut down

Council planning officers have recommended Acland Homes Ltd and Leebell Developments Ltd are given planning permission to build up to eight homes on a site at Worset Lane, close to Throston Golf Club.

A decision was previously due to be made on the plans by the council planning committee earlier this month, but the decision was deferred to allow councillors to visit the site.

Since the initial meeting 59 objections have been received by the council, many raising concerns over the loss of wildlife, while three letters of support were received backing the development.

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A row previously broke out after a hedge at the site was encased in green netting to deny access to birds and other wildlife while permission was awaited.

The use of netting has been the subject of controversy nationally, with campaigners claiming animals can get trapped inside.

However Stephen Litherland, managing director of Hertfordshire-based Acland Homes defended the use of the material and said the main risk to wildlife came from protestors slashing it and letting wildlife get inside.

Since the previous committee meeting the hedge along the western boundary of the site has been cut down along most of its length.

A planning report states planning permission is not required to remove most hedges, including the hedge in question.

The housing proposals are to go before the Hartlepool Borough Council planning committee again on Wednesday, May 8, with officers recommending they are given the go-ahead.

A report from planning officer Jane Tindall said: “There are considered to be material benefits arising from the proposed development.

“It is considered that the proposed development would, overall, positively benefit each of the threads of economic, social and environmental sustainability and would deliver sustainable development.”

Three objections had been submitted against the plans prior to the initial meeting, but a further 59 have been submitted since, mostly concerning the hedge removal and the impact on wildlife.

One Cobden Street resident said: “The residents report sightings of bats, hedgehogs and other mammals using this site, there is also at least one resident sparrow hawk who I personally witnessed flying over head several times during a short visit I made to the site.

“This area could potentially be a wildlife haven for the residents and others who live in the town to enjoy if allowed to flourish and is cared for properly.”

Letters of support for the plans argued the development would be progress and ‘an asset’ for the area and make better use of a currently unused piece of land.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service