Wildlife groups oppose homes plans

Wildlife groups are opposing plans to build thousands of new homes in Wymondham, claiming the proposals risk harming protected species and fragile habitats.

Wildlife groups are opposing plans to build thousands of new homes in Wymondham, claiming the proposals risk harming protected species and fragile habitats.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) is objecting to Pelham Holdings' plans for a new sustainable, mixed-use “urban extension” to the south of the town, which would see the development of 3,000 homes, 750 of which would be affordable, over the next 12 years.

In a letter to South Norfolk Council, NWT says that the proposals fail on a number of counts including not adequately addressing the impact on wildlife sites and on protected species. They say the proposals also fail to provide sufficient natural green space within, and adjacent to, the development.

Wymondham Nature Group has also written to the council outlining its concerns. The group's chairman, Ann Roberts, says: “The scale of the proposed development would overwhelm the natural environment of this part of Wymondham, putting at risk significant populations of protected species and their fragile habitats. We are extremely concerned about the threat to Silfield Nature Reserve located just across the bypass from the proposed development site. To build such a large development, bringing thousands of people and their pets within a short walk of this reserve would have a very detrimental effect on the wildlife through sheer weight of numbers walking on the reserve.

“The reserve was created, with public money, as a home for the great crested newts and other amphibians which lived along the route of the- then proposed bypass. It has become a very valuable habitat, with a wide range of wildlife, including great crested newts, water voles, occasional signs of otter, 14 species of dragonflies, 53 species of water beetles and bugs, and also supports a large range of birds and butterflies as well as other reptiles.”

She adds: “We trust that South Norfolk Council will not allow such a potentially damaging development to go ahead.”

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In a letter to the Mercury's sister paper the EDP, Lisa Hawes, of Wymondham Wildlife Sanctuary, says: “Colonies of different species of bats will be destroyed, also newts, and there will be nowhere to release the rehabilitated wildlife from the sanctuary, which has been established for nearly 40 years.”

But last night a spokesman for Pelham Holdings said: “The comprehensive environmental statement submitted with the planning application shows in detail how the environmental impact of the development will be mitigated and how the development will preserve Wymondham's unique character, while retaining and enhancing green areas and biodiversity where possible.

“Pelham was pleased to see that a recent report to the East of England Regional Assembly's Planning Panel on Pelham's application considers it to be in general conformity with the East of England Plan and praises Pelham for the community consultation it carried out before submitting the application. Pelham would encourage local people to view the plans to see the significant steps taken to make the south Wymondham development as sustainable as possible.”