Trees chop stops bid for 20 new homes in city
- Credit: George Thompson
A botanical plug has been pulled on plans to build 20 homes in Norwich after councillors ruled that trees are essential to the area's biodiversity.
A plan to convert a listed warehouse into six homes and the construction of another 14 has been quashed by councillors, who argued the development could be completed without the felling of six lime trees.
The site, next to the Wensum Sports Centre in King Street, near Rouen Road, has been empty for several years and sits on the city centre conservation area.
Ahead of a planning meeting on Wednesday, 17 objections were lodged against the plans, while a petition set up by Green Party Councillor Ash Haynes attracted 494 signatures.
Ms Haynes told the committee: "The trees form an important part of the character of the area, providing significant ecological benefits for an area otherwise lacking in green space."
Ms Haynes argued that removing trees was against council policies and she did not believe officers would have put a protection order on them in January if they did not consider them to be important.
Officers previously recommended the plans for approval, despite an 84pc net loss of biodiversity.
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Planning officer, Lara Emerson, said Hurlingham Capital, the company behind the plans, offered to purchase "biodiversity credits" - a scheme where companies invest in habitat creation off-site, but not necessarily in the area.
Ian Riley, an agent speaking on behalf of the developer, said the development would provide housing uncommon in that part of the city and they had no requests to change the scheme to accommodate the trees.
The chair of the committee, Keith Driver, initially moved a motion to approve the plans but withdrew it when it became clear he did not have the support of fellow councillors.
The application saw condemnation across the political divide.
Speaking after the meeting, Green Party councillors Ben Price and Ash Haynes said they were pleased the trees had been saved and it was a reflection in change of national policy.
"It's a win for nature," Mr Price said.