Victory for Peterborough homeowner after ‘hedgehog highway’ row

The 'wildlife corridor' at the rear of Grimshaw Road
The 'wildlife corridor' at the rear of Grimshaw Road
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A homeowner who built a wall across 2m of land at the rear of his garden that was allegedly taken illegally, and in so doing allegedly prevented access to a ‘hedgehog highway’, has won the right to retain it following an appeal.

Mohammed Ulhaq of 38 Grimshaw Road, Peterborough, had applied for a retrospective planning application in November 2018 for the brick wall he had built on a small piece of land at the rear of his home.

The application was refused in February 2019 and Mr Ulhaq was told he must either tear down his wall or appeal.

But his actions made local residents angry at the alleged abuse of planning rules and concerned at the potential harm it could cause to wildlife.

Organised into the ‘Grimshaw Road Wildlife Action Group’ by Richard Olive, they objected to “the owner building this wall with no respect for the local wildlife, flora and fauna”.

Mr Olive claimed evidence of a badger set, hedgehog movements, rare species of tree, and smooth and great crested newts in the area.

However, subsequent investigation by Peterborough City Council wildlife officers determined that the so-called ‘ancient wildlife corridor’ described by Mr Olive did not exis, and that there was “no evidence of any thoroughfare for protected wildlife” at the rear of Grimshaw Avenue.

Originally described to members of the council’s planning committee as “2m of land illegally taken by the homeowner”, the piece of land the wall sits on is barely 60cm (one brick width) wide.

It then became evident that even the ownership of the land was in question as it is unregistered. It therefore could not have been “taken illegally”.

Mr Ulhaq said: “My family and I were subjected to a series of hate and race-related attacks on our home and my business address from individuals who imagined I was somehow hurting protected wildlife species.

“I love wildlife. I have children who love wild animals. They learn about British wildlife at school, so I went to great lengths studying what to do on the internet to ensure that hedgehogs have full and proper access both through, around and past my wall.

“Not only that, but the area was full of litter-strewn scrub when I erected the wall and that has now been cleared away by me, so any wildlife has completely unhindered access to this ‘corridor’ in front of, behind or through the wall.

“It was very frightening to receive hate messages and I reported the incidents to the police. It was this, and the injustice caused to me, that led me to appeal the decision.”

The successful appeal means retrospective planning permission has now been granted.