Anger as plan for new housing in woodland is approved
A PLAN to build 16 houses on an area of open land in Plymstock has been given the go ahead.
Councillors debated the application for the development in Springfield Close for nearly two hours before approving it.
The decision was made despite 97 objections from the public. Critics said the building project will mean the loss of protected wildlife habitats, additional traffic and a lack of affordable housing in the area.
Councillor Vivien Pengelly for Plymstock Dunstone led the objections saying: “This development will mean the loss of a prominent green area for both the neighbourhood and the city.
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“There is a wide range of wildlife that live on this land. Bats use it as a flight path and it is full of slow worms - both of which are protected.
“That is not to mention the fact that the planned demolition of the house on the site is in breach of a legal covenant.”
The company that owns the land, Senate Properties Ltd, was granted conditional approval - subject to S106 obligations being fulfilled - to begin work on 12 four bed and four five bed detached houses, each with private garages.
A new access road will be designed to create a cul-de-sac with 27 Springfield Close being demolished to allow for a thoroughfare.
The green space behind the house is currently an open space and, as well as acting as a natural habitat for bats, nesting birds and reptiles, it is used as an entry into Dunstone Woods.
Cllr Kevin Wigens followed Cllr Pengelly in encouraging the committee not to approve the application.
He said: “The area around Springfield Close is unable to deal with its current levels of traffic and this development will make a bad situation worse.
“The road already has a 90 degree bend in it as a traffic calming measure - I don’t see how it can be safe to now have even more cars using that stretch.”
The Planning Committee took advice from planning officers and ecological assessors who assured them that ecological and traffic concerns had been met in the application.
The committee stated that the legal covenant mentioned by Cllr Pengelly was not a matter for them to consider at this stage.
Planning Officer Robert Heard stated that part of the open land would be kept, acting as a buffer between the houses and the woods. It will be cleared to make it more easily accessible to the public.
Affected animals will be safely collected and placed in new areas near the woods while a proper environmental strategy plan will be put into place.
Ian Russell from Design Development, the company responsible for the plans, said that they had worked closely with the council to meet the required standards.
He said: “Changes have already been made according to council recommendations and the number of dwellings being built was reduced from 47 down to 16.
“I believe that we will be producing high quality family accommodation which is also visually acceptable.”
Planning Committee chair, Cllr Bill Stevens, said: “There were concerns and strong views on both side and people had their full say. I believe this is a sensible development that will play a part in meeting the city’s housing needs.
“The process was thorough and I am confident that the application met all the raised concerns.”
Plymstock resident Steve Williams, who has campaigned against the plans is shocked the plans were given the go-ahead.
He said: “It’s terrible, I’m absolutely surprised.
“This is very worrying. The bend in the road is already dangerous. It’s an accident waiting to happen now.
“And the councillors will have blood on their hands when it does.”