Nesting seagull delays demolition of former shop units in Lymington Road, Highcliffe
THE demolition of a row of Highcliffe village centre shops has been halted – by a seagull.
The bird was spotted nesting among chimney pots on one of the units at 366-370 Lymington Road which were due to have been knocked down at the start of the month.
They are to be replaced by two commercial units and nine apartments, after BCP Council gave the go-ahead last year to Sabre Commercial Investments Ltd.
Ferndown-based contractor Direct Demolition Ltd was preparing to carry out the work on 3rd May when one of the team spotted the gull.
Director Gary Small told the A&T: “We phoned our client, Glossbrook [Builders Ltd], and between us we didn’t start any work at all, and Glossbrook got in touch with the RSPB.
“At the end of the day, work is work and money is money, but wildlife is wildlife and I wouldn’t like to see anything being harmed unnecessarily.
“I don’t care if it holds the work up.”
News of the postponement was welcomed by local resident Isabel Monday, who had contacted police, BCP Council and the RSPB with her concerns for the nest.
“A very happy ending,” she told the A&T. “I didn’t go up to see as couldn’t bear if [the demolition] had started, and avoided the shops.
“I eventually managed to go up and look on Saturday after asking a friend to drive by, as I needed to know, and saw the nest was still there, and just ugly demolition signs.”
An RSPB spokesperson pointed out that, whatever the species, it is illegal to disturb an active bird’s nest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Nesting season typically runs from March to August, with chicks hatching around May/June. They fledge around August but may continue to make use of the nest for several weeks more.
Mr Small said Glossbrook was taking regular drone footage of the nest to check its progress.
He stressed his company always completes a walk-round of any building before demolishing it to ensure there is no one inside.
“Even a building with no roof can be chosen by squatters as a place to stay the night,” he continued.
“Basically, anything with a heart we protect – anything living.”
He added he was in touch with the occupant of an upstairs flat opposite who had a view of the nest.
The incident comes just weeks after a sparrow’s nest in a temporary support structure delayed the reopening of the C10 Station Road under the A35 following extensive Holmsley Bridge replacement works.
As reported in the A&T, the New Forest route’s three-month closure was due to have been lifted within a week of the main road above which reopened on 11th April.