Anger at removal of site hedgerows

Persimmon Homes' Slaley Dene development in Bedlington.
Persimmon Homes' Slaley Dene development in Bedlington.

A developer which has flouted planning conditions at its housing scheme in Bedlington has been given the go-ahead to remove more hedgerows.

The application, to vary a previous condition, was granted because Persimmon Homes has agreed to replant some of the hedges by moving the hedge line back and also planting new hedge to the northern tip of the site.

The changes, relating to the company’s Slaley Dene development of 33 homes, to the north of Slaley Court, were approved by eight votes to four at last Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

Members previously considered the application at their June meeting before opting to go on a site visit to get a better idea of the situation.

The meeting heard that it has been causing problems for local residents and councillors for some time and the planning officer’s report refers to hedgerows being removed in breach of the conditions on at least two occasions.

Russ Wallace, from Make a Noise for Bedlington, said: “Persimmon’s approval was contingent on the retention of the hedgerows.”

He added that there have been no material changes since the section 106 legal agreement was signed so the removals are ‘tantamount to an abuse of this process’.

“You will be telling residents that a for-profit housing estate is more important than they are,” he warned.

Richard Holland, for Persimmon, said: “We put our hands up and admit we took hedges out without permission.

“Now we are working with the council so we can do it an appropriate way.”

The councillors who voted in favour accepted that approving the scheme would help put the issue right due to the pledged reinstatement of hedgerows.

However, Coun Ian Swithenbank said: “I will vote against on a point of principle.”

He was extremely critical of Persimmon, referring to the recent news of its £600 million bonus pot for its senior managers and saying that ‘they can afford to put their mistakes right’.

Couns Gordon Castle and Andrew Tebbutt both called on the developer to have discussions with the town council and residents.