Community fight garden 'infill' development in conservation area
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Neighbours in a leafy road are once again fighting plans for an "infill" development in green space they say is "significant" for wildlife.
Bury St Edmunds' York Road, part of the Victoria Street Conservation Area, is facing plans for a single-storey home behind numbers 42-45.
Plans, by a different applicant, for a single-storey property on the same site were refused in 2019 as the building would "be at odds with the overriding character of the area" due to its scale and elevated location.
In its refusal, the local planning authority also accepted the large undeveloped garden area was important for wildlife, particularly a "very high hedgehog population".
Dean Pearce, the agent on behalf of the applicants Mr and Mrs Gilbey, said this application "seeks to address the issues raised on the alternative proposal made by somebody else".
However, residents remain vehemently opposed to building on this site, with a range of concerns over wildlife, loss of amenity, impact on the conservation area and access as the land is accessible via a track.
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So far, 30 objections have been lodged against the application since it was validated on June 4.
York Road resident Lorraine Bird said: "It makes a mockery of what is a conservation area. Back gardens are part of the character of this road. This is piecemeal development.
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"We have been here for 20 years and there have been three new buildings adjacent to our property and this will be the fourth."
She added: "It's one of the nicest roads in Bury. It's a well-sought-after road and one of the reasons is it retains nature."
In her official objection, she said the garden area now forms a small reservoir habitat for wildlife that is "significant".
Suffolk Prickles Hedgehog Rescue urged the planning authority - West Suffolk Council - to refuse the application, saying the development would "ruin" what is currently a "wonderful wild habitat" and "excellent connective route" for creatures between the gardens.
In their objection, Paula Baker, chair of trustees, said: "So many of our 'wild' spaces have been impacted by development and they always have a detrimental effect on all wildlife populations but most keenly on hedgehogs which are now classed as critically endangered."
The design and access statement with the application says there will be mitigation in terms of hedgehogs, such as log piles and openings in fencing, but Suffolk Prickles Hedgehog Rescue says the mitigation survey "does not take into account all of the natural behaviour of a hedgehog".
Alan Young, 80, who has lived in York Road for about 50 years, spoke of his "concern" and "dismay" at what he says would be a loss of amenity for residents.
He spoke of the "villagey" feel of the area and that the openness at the back of his house was one of the reasons he bought it.
Ward councillor Clive Springett, who is supporting the residents' fight, said: "I get very frustrated. We have got space to develop, but for some reason people want to build in these secluded bits of land at the back of properties where you can only get one house in there.
"It's an awful lot of upset and pressure on the local residents for the sake of providing one property."
The design and access statement concluded that the proposal would enhance the area and cause "no demonstrable harm to the CA (Conservation Area), the wider landscape and highways network".
It said it provides a "wholly considered, appropriate and bespoke resolution to this unique site".
The statement said the applicants seek to buy the plot and build the property.
The application DC/21/1091/FUL can be found by searching the West Suffolk Council planning website.