Developer responds to public outrage following removal of hedgerows on Ashlawn Road

Image submitted by John Potter.
Image submitted by John Potter.

A developer behind the 860-home development on Ashlawn Road has responded following public outrage that came as it removed sections of hedgerow on Ashlawn Road.

The removal of sections of the hedgerows began yesterday, April 8, resulting in Rugby council receiving reports from residents.

Numerous Rugbeians also contacted the Advertiser, with many saying they were concerned for the welfare of any birds which might have been nesting in the hedgerow.

One resident, a farmer, said: "It's all very well saying 'we must protect the environment' but then idiots like that go ahead and do this."

Rugby planning officers, the council’s arboricultural officer and Warwickshire County Council’s ecology officers visited the site - and the developer agreed to halt the removal of hedgerows while Rugby council sought legal advice to ascertain whether the developer had broken the law.

A spokesperson for David Wilson Homes East Midlands, the developer responsible for removing the hedgerows, said: “As part of the construction process, a full survey of the hedgerows was carried out by our consultant ecologist before the hedge was removed and no nesting birds were found.

“As a five star housebuilder we are committed to looking after the environment as well as building quality homes. We have an ongoing partnership with the RSPB and always try to give nature a home wherever we can.

“At our new Ashlawn Road development we will be planting new hedgerows to mitigate for losses during construction, together with creating new green spaces and habitats for wildlife. These include six new ponds, green corridors and parks and gardens. Overall the development will create approximately 12 hectares of new open space.”

A spokesperson for Rugby council said: “Under the conditions of planning permission, developers were allowed to create two access points to the site, including work which required the removal of sections of the hedgerow. We’re now in the process of checking whether the hedgerow which has been removed complies with the conditions of the planning permission."

“We’re aware of concerns regarding the possibility of nesting birds being disturbed during the removal of the hedgerow.

"The developer employed the services of an ecologist prior to the hedgerow being removed to check for nesting birds and other wildlife, and we have passed the report compiled by the developer’s ecologist to the ecologist at Warwickshire County Council for inspection."

A statement found in the development's planning application states that vegetation on site will largely be retained and protected - including the hedgerows and hedgerow trees located along the eastern, northern and southern site boundaries and also the hedgerows that cross parts of the site.

In 2016 Rugby council's planning committee rejected the application, submitted by David Wilson Homes East Midlands and Gallagher Estates, to build homes on the site.

But the applicants appealed the decision and the secretary of state for the then Department for Communities and Local Government allowed the appeal in July 2017.

A spokesperson for the other developer, Gallagher Estates, said the company had no involvement in the removal of hedgerows.