September 22, 2021 11.50 am

Councillors reject 120 home development in Hykeham over wildlife concerns

Council fears over biodiversity loss

North Kesteven District Council has rejected a 120-home plan next to a Hykeham lake which campaigners called a “cancerous tumour”.

Officers at the authority’s planning committee on Tuesday said that the harm to and loss of local wildlife, caused by CEMEX UK’s plans for land off Heron Walk and Apex Lake, would not be outweighed by the new housing and that there were doubts over the accuracy and detail of ecological reports carried out by the applicant.

CEMEX UK originally applied to build 150 new lakeside homes in 2020 but in December, officers recommended refusal due to the adverse impacts on nearby wildlife and a failure to assess the potential implications for local bats. The application was subsequently withdrawn shortly before planning committee due to new information being submitted by CEMEX.

The applicant was later unable to find suitable sites for alternative provisions and, instead, amended the plans, bringing down the number of houses to 120 and offering a 1.1ha area of ecological enhancement in its place.

The council has received nearly 200 objections to the plans and subsequent amendments with concerns including the impacts on highways, local infrastructure and the ecology of the lake.

A statement from objector Mr Papworth – read out at the meeting – said: “Despite three amendments to their proposal, the applicant has still failed to provide clarity on how they will adequately mitigate the wanton destruction of a local wildlife site situated within green wedge land.

“The current central Lincs local plan describes this wildlife site as a green lung. This an apt metaphor, since it is one of the few remaining vestiges of oxygen producing greenery remaining within Hykeham.

“I’d like to extend this green lung metaphor, the destruction of this wildlife site would see it replaced by a cancerous tumour which will metastasize and create myriad secondary issues that will blight our community well into the future.”

The latest plans showing areas left aside for biodiversity benefit.

Michael Braithwaite, the agent for the applicant said that “many, if not all” issues had been resolved in the latest plans.

He said the proposal could demonstrate compliance with local policies and that a net gain in local wildlife was presented.

“There can be no disputing that there is sufficient information available to demonstrate in principle, the ability to demonstrate biodiversity net gain,” he said, however, he acknowledged the finer detail was missing.

He noted the plans were only at outline stage said that further detail could instead be provided at reserved matters when the final plans went before the council.

The applicant has previously stated the proposals would limit access to the lakeside area, reducing anti-social behaviour and preventing the endangerment of human lives, however, objectors have disputed this statement.

Proposing refusal, Councillor Ian Carrington said there was insufficient evidence to support approval of the application and a “lack of proof” over what could be achieved.

With regard to the green wedge, he said: “It’s terribly easy to salami slice it away, and then suddenly you discover it’s not there anymore.”

The site stopped being used as a quarry in 2011.

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