'Devastation' for Clayton-le-Woods residents as decades-old trees and hedges are ripped out by developer

Residents of a Clayton-le-Woods estate say they have been left "devastated" by the sudden removal of a wildlife buffer between them and new houses.

By Catherine Musgrove
Thursday, 5th August 2021, 3:45 pm

Planning permission granted by Chorley Council for the 220-home Oaktree Grange development by Lovell Homes shows a strip of hedgerows and mature trees to be retained between the new homes and existing gardens in Ivy Close.

But last month, Ben Harling, who owns a property in Ivy Close, looked up from his kitchen window to see the buffer being cut down by chainsaws.

He said: "Literally in the space of three hours, it was all gone. I was crying in the garden.

The 'before' shot showing the trees and vegetation screening Ivy Close gardens from the new development

"This was my forever home and now I'm thinking about selling.

"We all feel devastated. There's some people who have gone away on holiday and say they don't want to come back to all of this."

Mr Harling says he always knew houses would be built on the field behind his house, but was assured the trees would remain.

He is concerned that the removal of the buffer leaves people able to look directly into his living room, and that the work has been done without any notification or consultation with residents.

The 'after' shot from Ben Harling's garden now the 'buffer' has been removed.

He also questions who owns the buffer strip. He and other Ivy Close residents say they were always told the buffer was owned by Chorley Council, not the developer, and that council workers had pruned the trees only in the last month.

He said: "It's very easy to point the finger at Lovell Homes, but if someone has allowed them to do it, then that's a bigger problem.

"It's happened here now, but Chorley Council need to make sure it doesn't happen elsewhere."

Chorley Council has not responded to enquiries by the Lancashire Post.

Councillor Mark Clifford, Champion for Environment and Green Space on Chorley Council, said: "I am furious that a housing developer thinks it’s ok in 2021 to needlessly destroy natural wildlife habitat especially a developer that goes into local schools talking about the importance of protecting hedgehogs. These trees and hedgerows were their home.

"Residents are right to be up in arms about this and call out the developer. I hope Lovell’s cease this barbaric practice and keep existing trees and hedgerows around their estates as it’s not just good for wildlife but also good for the health and wellbeing of residents."

>>>Click here to read what Lovell Homes is doing to raise awareness of hedgehog habitats.

Correspondence from the planning office, seen by the Pos dated last week states that the vegetation has been removed so that a culvert can be installed, as per the approved drainage layout.

But an official statement from Lovell Homes says the removal was concerning a "safe and secure boundary".

A representative from Lovell said: “We are aware of the concerns expressed by those local to Oaktree Grange in Clayton Le Woods regarding the recent removal of an existing area of bushes and shrubs.

"Unfortunately, during the erecting of the rear fence line, some of the existing landscaping had to be removed to provide a safe and secure boundary.

“Mitigation measures are currently being discussed with an ecologist, to provide flora and fauna enhancements to the rear of the gardens to compensate for the loss, which will be agreed with the planning department.”