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Police drop probe into landowner's undergrowth clearance for homes at Jesmond Avenue in Highcliffe

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POLICE have dropped an investigation into a landowner accused of wrongly clearing undergrowth at the site of controversial development proposals in Highcliffe.

The action at woodland off Jesmond Avenue was reported to the Dorset force which has now told the A&T there was insufficient evidence of any offence.

Christchurch developer Christopher Bulstrode, who owns Brentland Ltd, said he will press ahead with his planning application for 17 houses there.

The cleared area at Jesmond Avenue
The cleared area at Jesmond Avenue

Furious residents and parish councillors claimed he had “destroyed” important wildlife habitat on 22nd June along with large areas of vegetation and saplings.

But no further action will be taken by Dorset Police after a wildlife crime officer liaised with the force’s rural crime team, the National Wildlife crime unit, BCP Council and an ecologist.

The force said: “It has been found that at this time there is not sufficient evidence that a wildlife crime occurred, including disturbance or destruction of a set/nest and proof that the set/nest was active at the time of the destruction.

"If further information is received in relation to this report, this will be investigated. Any reported breaches of a tree preservation order are a matter for BCP Council to investigate.”

Chris Bulstrode at the site
Chris Bulstrode at the site

A spokesperson for BCP Council said attempts had also not been accepted by an independent examiner to have Jesmond Wood formally protected as a Local Green Space in planning policies proposed for the draft Highcliffe and Walkford Neighbourhood Plan, a guideline document being drawn up by the parish council.

They added: "There are, however, existing planning policies that will suitably control the land use on the site and any development proposals will be assessed carefully against this through the planning process.”

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.

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