City councillors have voted to protect an ancient wildlife corridor from a planning application, saving hedgehogs and badgers from an uncertain future.
Members of the planning committee made the decision at their meeting on Tuesday.
A retrospective planning application had been made for a wall on land at the rear of 38 Grimshaw Road, Park ward.
Approximately 2m of land had already been illegally taken by the homeowner, Mohammed Ulhaq, to build the brick wall at the end of his garden, effectively blocking off the wildlife corridor.
Local residents, angry at the abuse of planning rules and the potential harm it may cause to wildlife in the area, organised themselves into an action group. Richard Olive, objecting, said at the meeting: “The owner has built this wall with no respect for the local wildlife, flora and fauna.”
Mr Ulhaq, who was not present at the meeting, has been told by the council to provide ‘hedgehog holes’ in his wall to allow the creatures to get from one side to the other, which he has already done.
But Mr Olive pointed out: “They are far too small, infrequent and raised above the ground. Hedgehogs cannot climb, so what are the council proposing to do for them, ladders and trampolines?”
“We did a complete survey of the verge and discovered there are no less than 45 important species of flora and fauna, including the only known example in this area of the very rare Huntingdon Elm.”
Lee Collins, council planning officer, said he could find no evidence badgers had ever used the land, but admitted he had not made a comprehensive study of the location.
Committee member Cllr Christian Hogg said: “If we allow this retrospective planning application to go ahead, what possible objection could we have as a council if every household on Grimshaw Road decided to land grab 2m to extend their gardens?”
Members unanimously refused the application. Mr Ulhaq must either appeal or face a possible demolition order to remove his wall.