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Parish council changes mind on plans for 23 homes off Jesmond Avenue, Highcliffe

BCP Council will make a decision on the plans for Jesmond Avenue in the coming weeks.
BCP Council will make a decision on the plans for Jesmond Avenue in the coming weeks.

HIGHCLIFFE and Walkford Parish Council agreed at a special meeting to change its mind and object to a controversial plan to build 23 houses on woodland in Jesmond Avenue.

The council met this month to discuss the proposal by Brentland Ltd which has been heavily criticised by local residents, with more than 300 objections lodged and a petition gathered.

At a meeting in December councillors had voted to comment on the application to BCP Council but not oppose it, saying only that there was a need to ensure that trees at the site would be protected.

But members have now said that after “additional information had come to light” it would be urging BCP Council to reject the plan.

Planning lead Cllr Willie McNeill revealed there had now been concerns voiced about it from the Woodland Trust, Natural England and BCP Council.

In its notice of objection, the parish council said the area has been designated a green corridor since 2001 in the Christchurch and East Dorset Local Plan.

It is also part of the Dorset Ecological Network but if the plan goes ahead, it will be reduced from 56 metres wide to around 10 metres which they said would greatly reduce habitat for wildlife.

The parish council also pointed out that a tree preservation order covers the site and that the woodland is of “high amenity value to the character of the area”.

It said that seven species of bat have been recorded in the woodland, which also provides home for other wildlife.

Christopher Bulstrode, from Brentland Ltd, recently felled seven trees at the site. BCP Council said it had agreed with him that they were dead or dying, and that he would replant others in their place.

Originally Mr Bulstrode wanted to build 54 homes, comprising two blocks of 36 flats and 18 bungalows. But he later withdrew the plan submitting one instead for the 23 houses.

The land had been compulsory purchased from his family firm in the 1960s to build a bypass but he bought in back in 2015. He said his development will “provide much needed housing in Highcliffe”.

The deadline for public comments was last Thursday. BCP Council will make a decision in the coming weeks.

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