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Social Media Outcry As Hedges Removed In Keens Lane Development

Published on: 5 Jun, 2019
Updated on: 8 Jun, 2019

By Hugh Coakley

Social media saw an outcry this week as preparation work on a housing development in Keens Lane, Worplesdon started.

Concern was expressed that hedges would be removed during the bird nesting season.

The hedge on the left in the photo will be removed as part of the Keens Lane housing development.

Initial comments on Facebook on the hedge removal said: “It’s the eve of the sad ending of this lovely, 100+ year old hedgerow in Keens Lane. Betrayed by the Greenbelt policy that wasn’t robust enough to save it.”

Facebook comment at the start of the Keens Lane housing project which attracted over 300 replies.

This was followed by a stream of more than 300 comments discussing ways to stop the hedge being removed.

Susan Parker, Guildford Borough Councillor for Send and Lead Councillor for the Environment and Rural Strategy, said that she had referred the matter to Surrey Police after she had been told that the hedge was threatened.

She said: “We want to protect our wildlife. Please take photos of nesting birds, bats or hedgehogs – before the bulldozers move in.

“As the new Lead Councillor for the Environment, I want to change the culture in our borough so we have a presumption in favour of protecting all our wild spaces and our wildlife.”

However, it was already too late for that 10m section of hedge as it had been removed earlier today (June 5) to widen the site entrance opposite Chitty’s Common.

An approximate 10m section of hedge, looking to be mainly bramble, was removed to widen the site entrance opposite Chitty’s Common.

A view of the same area after the hedge was removed.

A spokesperson for Guildford Borough Council (GBC) said: “It would appear that some of the information being discussed on social media has not been entirely accurate.

“Initially, the developers are currently planning to remove only a small 10 metre section to allow the construction of the new eastern access into the development. A further small section may be removed to facilitate the western access, however, this is not planned until later in the summer. It is understood that the remainder of the hedge will not be removed until later in the year.

“The council has reminded the developer of their responsibilities under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The developer notes that the 10 metre section of hedge to be removed first has been surveyed by an ecologist within the last week and no nests or nesting birds were found. Following discussions with the council, the developer has agreed to undertake a re-survey of the hedge by an ecologist immediately prior to its removal.

“It is important to note that where there is no breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, a hedge can be removed at any time, even if it is within the bird nesting season.”

Keens Lane development masterplan

A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said: “We understand the concerns raised by local residents regarding planned hedgerow removal work at our site on Keens Lane. Preserving and enhancing local wildlife is a key consideration when we plan and build new developments and we are working closely with an ecologist to ensure that no harm comes to nesting birds and other animals during our work on site.

“We will continue to engage with residents as well as the local authority as the development progresses.”

The planning application for 141 houses, a 70-bed care home, 355 parking spaces and seven self-build homes in Keens Lane was approved in November 2018 by Guildford Borough Council after a split decision by the planning committee.

Work has started on site with the four- to six-week programme of demolition of stables and agricultural buildings on the site.

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test 4 Responses to Social Media Outcry As Hedges Removed In Keens Lane Development

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    June 6, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    It’ll be interesting to see what may be dug up when the groundworks start. I seem to recall there used to be a car breakers / scrapyard on the site back in the ’70s & ’80s.

  2. Harry Elson Reply

    June 6, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    This is just the start of the encroachment into the green belt, which we were all told was sacred land never to be built on.

    Will the urban sprawl now begin, next stop Perry Hill? Beware all who live in Worplesdon, this is the beginning of the desecration of our countryside – fields ready for development, the bulldozer and concrete to come. A very sad day. Fight the council all the way.

    Democracy is under threat, but remember we can change things at the ballot box in the future.

  3. Helena Townsend Reply

    June 6, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Funny that people view nesting birds more important than nesting people. Is it not more important for humans to have housing too or are blackbirds more important? There must be more vegans in Guildford than I first thought.

  4. Jim Allen Reply

    June 6, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    For every ant there is a robin waiting to eat it for every robin there is a cat waiting to pounce, for every human there is something else in nature which will have to take second place. I think the removal of the hedge is unnecessary if it is to provide housing for people. It is oh so simple to pull the cord on the chainsaw and simply cut away Nature in the excuse it blocks the view of humans.

    We need balance, not destruction and concrete which is why so many by their various words are heartbroken by this Local Plan – it has no balance with Nature.

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