Developers clear 40 acres of trees and shrubs following 'unauthorized access' to Northampton allotment
Residents are outraged after a developer pulled down a fence beforeÂ 'knocking down trees likes dominoes.'
They protested outside the former allotment, which has been earmarked for 142 new houses, as a tractor reduced around 40 acres of shrubs and trees to woodchips.
Northampton Borough Council has called the move "unauthorised access" and have fenced off the makeshift entrance.
Ines Reeve, whose house looks out onto the development site in Lancaster Way, off Towcester Road, Delapre, said: "They came on Friday night (February 24), smashed through the fence panel and parked a tractor on the site.
"Today (March 1) the trees are being knocked down like dominoes."
Developers Barry Howard Homes received planning permission to build 211 homes on the allotment site in 2008. They reapplied for permission in 2012 to instead build 142 houses.
Barry Howard Homes installed the fence after they secured the land in 2016.
The development has also raised environmental concerns with residents.
Site clearance can take place without a pre-works survey outside of nesting season, which begins on March 1.
Barry Howard Homes's tractor accessed the site on February 24, and began work to clear the trees on February 28.
Brendan Glynane, district councillor Delapre and Rushmere, said: "Those trees provided a valuable nesting site for birds. There are bat colonies and even deer there at times. It has all been torn down.
"It looks like the Somme on there. The developers have organised this to access the land without authorisation a day before nesting season begins to start preparing the land for development.
"We have no objection to the estate being built. We just feel they have ridden roughshod over us to do so."
Barry Howard, director of Barry Howard Homes, said: "One end of the site had unattended grazing horses, which the contractor didn't want to upset, and the other end had thick hedging belonging to a neighbour. In the contractors opinion, the simplest way was to take down the fence panels I had put up previously and cross the grass verge. It is clearly a frustration to all but innocent in its design.
"We have full permission to clear the shrubs and self-set trees.
"I accept our general PR could have been handled differently."
Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “We have been monitoring the situation at the site off Lancaster Way very closely and are aware of the concerns of local residents.
“Planning permission for this site was agreed in principle in November and we are in negotiation with the developer over a number of planning contributions. As these contributions are yet to be agreed the activity undertaken onsite this week has not resulted in a breach in planning regulations.
“However, there is an issue surrounding how the contractors gained access to the site and we have written to them to ask that access across Borough Council land stop immediately. We intend to install temporary fencing to prevent further access until these issues are resolved.”