A DEVELOPER has accused parish councillors of having “twisted” a tree report to persuade planners to throw out a controversial scheme of 54 new homes in Highcliffe.
Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council was attacked for “outrageous behaviour” by Christopher Bulstrode, director of Brentland Ltd.
He wants to build 18 detached bungalows and two blocks containing 36 flats on an area south of Jesmond Avenue.
An arboriculture report commissioned by Mr Bulstrode states that many trees will be lost as a result, yet goes on to say that the majority of these are “low quality, structurally poor specimens that are not worth keeping”.
But in a letter of objection to BCP Council, which will make the final decision, the parish council’s critical quote from the report leaves this paragraph out.
Mr Bustrode said he was alerted to the anomaly by local residents. He said: “Why leave this paragraph out? It links the two they have quoted.
“They have twisted our report in their favour. I was so shocked when I saw what they had done.”
In a statement to the A&T, the parish council said members took the view that the application – which is in outline only – should be refused.
It said: “It did so on various grounds that included the whole issue of trees, not simply the quality of the specimens. It is very clear from BCP Council’s arboricultural and landscape officer’s report of 5th December 2019 that the officer recommends refusing the proposal.
“The officer recognised that there were some low/poor quality trees but nevertheless the report says, ‘The proposed level of tree felling to facilitate the development is unacceptable. The tree removal will destroy the character of the site, particularly when viewed from Jesmond Avenue. This will have a negative impact on the local landscape, wildlife habitat and the green corridor’.”
The council’s statement added: “This underlines the parish council’s view, together with other grounds, that the application should be refused.”
Mr Bulstrode argued his development would provide 40% affordable housing which is “sorely needed” in the area.
He went on: “We are contractually obliged to apply for planning permission and, if granted, we have to pay £300,000 to BCP Council which hopefully would be used for the community of Highcliffe.
“If it is refused, we have to take it to appeal which is going to cost the council. I think the parish council should be aware of the consequences of what their biased views could do.”
The land in question was compulsorily purchased by Hampshire County Council in the 1960s from what was then known as Boyland and Son Ltd to build a relief road to bypass Highcliffe.
But the route was never built, and the land was brought back by Mr Bulstrode’s company in 2015.