Newt discovery forces late changes to 166-home plan at old golf club

A smooth newt gently held by two hands

A smooth newt gently held by two hands - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A developer was left scrambling to make last minute changes to a major housing application after newts were discovered in the garden of a neighbouring property.

Persimmon Homes is awaiting a final decision on the second phase of the redevelopment of the former Royal Norwich Golf Club in Hellesdon, which will see another 166 homes added to the site. 

While outline permission has been granted for up to 1,000 homes across the former golf course, the developer is awaiting the green light for its second phase - which is due to be considered by Broadland councillors in the coming weeks.

Architects' image of the Persimmon development on the former Royal Norwich Golf Club.

Architects' image of the Persimmon development on the former Royal Norwich Golf Club. - Credit: Concept Architecture/Persimmon

However, after a neighbour who shares a boundary with the development site discovered a newt in their garden, the planners were forced into late amendments to the application to ensure the welfare of the slippery amphibians were accounted for.

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Anglia said: “We were made aware of a ‘potential’ newt discovery on the site.

"Broadland District Council confirmed that the newt was found in a resident's garden adjacent to our White Rose Park development and our qualified ecologist identified the newt as a smooth newt.

"Following discussions with Broadland District Council our ecologist produced a precautionary method of work to ensure the protection of any amphibians that may be found on-site and as such there is no impact on our current or future plans to bring much-needed new homes to the area.”

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A spokesman for Broadland said that had it been a great-crested newt discovered it may have proved more of a predicament for the homebuilder.

The spokesman said: "Smooth newts do not have the same level of protection as great-crested newts – in fact, they are protected against sale and trade only.  They are widespread, and tend to be much more commonly encountered than great-crested newt.

"A method statement was prepared to address potential welfare issues for the newts and other amphibian species if they are found on the site. 

"The report was sent to the case officer and it now forms part of the current planning application we have in for phase 2 of the development and will form part of the application for phase 3 when that is submitted."

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