Developer causes 'devastation' after sending bulldozer into woodland at Jesmond Avenue, Highcliffe
A DEVELOPER has been reported to the police after undergrowth was torn out and land flattened with a bulldozer in Highcliffe woodland.
The ribbon of trees is off Jesmond Avenue where Christopher Bulstrode, who owns Brentland Ltd, has applied to build 17 houses, prompting objections from locals who want the green space to stay.
Furious residents and parish councillors claimed he has “destroyed” important wildlife habitats along with a “huge area” of vegetation and saplings.
But Mr Bulstrode said he cleared the site using experts after being advised by BCP Council that he needed to set out where the houses were going to be before a visit by planning and tree officers.
He told the A&T: “We have been asked by the planning department to peg out the units as they would appear on the site. The only way of doing this was by stripping out brambles and undergrowth.
“Also, the land needed levelling out. No trees were removed.”
Cllr Andy Martin, vice-chair of Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council, said he has reported Mr Bulstrode to Dorset Police, saying: “What he has done is an absolute disgrace.
“He was given an inch by the council and basically sent the bulldozers in and destroyed the habitats of thousands of creatures.
“He has caused utter devastation.
“This area is a vital part of the green corridor which runs through Highcliffe which the parish council has enshrined in its Neighbourhood Plan as needing protection.”
Dorset Police confirmed receiving a report that a “landowner had cleared what is believed to be protected land on Jesmond Avenue”.
A spokesperson said its rural crime team was now looking into the situation.
A BCP Council spokesperson told the A&T: “There was no request for any land to be cleared and we do not condone this action.
“We are as disappointed as much as the public are to see vegetation removed to this extent.
“Our officers have been to the site and are investigating.
“The planning service, including tree and biodiversity officers remain in communication with the agent for this site as that investigation progresses.”
Mr Bulstrode had the area of land, which his company owns, cleared between 20th and 22nd June.
He said the work was carried out by experts, adding: “We were careful to avoid damaging any trees. The area that was stripped and flattened was completely overgrown – most of it was dead vegetation.”
Mr Bulstrode has submitted previous planning applications for the site, including one for 54 new dwellings which he later withdrew.
The land was compulsorily purchased by Hampshire County Council in the 1960s from Mr Bulstrode’s family’s firm, Boyland and Son Ltd, to build a relief road to bypass Highcliffe.
But the route was never built, and the land was bought back by him in 2015.