Campaigners are celebrating after a second attempt to build on an ancient woodland was thrown out by planning chiefs.
More than 180 objections were lodged against plans for a four-bedroom house on land at Ashdene, in Healey, which would have involved felling six protected trees.
Earlier plans for four new homes at the Whitworth Road site – described as a ‘wildlife haven’ by locals – were withdrawn by applicant Janet Pink last year.
And residents are again celebrating after a scaled down plan for just one detached home – which some campaigners suspected would be ‘the thin end of the wedge – was rejected by Rochdale council.
The authority says the removal of the trees would ‘unduly impact on the existing character and appearance of the area’, while overshadowing from those remaining would ‘adversely impact on the living environment of future residents’.
And a planting scheme ‘to mitigate tree losses’ and ‘improve
the visual benefits of the site and surrounding area’ did not go far enough.
Other reasons for refusal include a failure to demonstrate that the development would not ‘unduly impact’ on bats at the site.
The community’s efforts to protect the woodland – believed to have around 300 trees – has been hailed by Healey councillor Kieran Heakin.
“It shows what people power can do, the locals were not happy with the wildlife and trees being destroyed there,” he said.
“I was afraid that, in a few years’ time, the owner might put in an application to remove more trees – because the house is dark and they would want more light, or because there are leaves on the drive.” he said.
However, he warned residents the fight may not yet be over: “The owner can always appeal, it could well not be over yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Kate Robinson, co-ordinator for campaign group Save Ashdene Woodland said: “We are absolutely delighted, that’s the overwhelming emotion,” she said.
“People didn’t want to lose the trees or the wildlife. People had seen badgers and been hearing numerous birds and owls, so when we told people what was there they didn’t want to lose it.”
Although Mrs Robinson says objectors understand the need for new homes – particularly social housing – but did not feel this was addressing that shortfall.
She said: “It was purely for profit and not for the wellbeing of the area, people don’t like losing green space.
“Nobody wants trees cutting down in this day and age. They don’t want to lose wildlife or the general wellbeing and amenity of the area.”
And while Mrs Robinson accepts that another application could yet emerge, she believes the precedents set so far would leave the developer with few options.
“Short of opening a dog kennel I don’t know what they are going to try to put on there, it would be questionable if they tried again,” she said.
“I would not like to say they will not come back, as money is a motivator – but I would like to think this sends a clear message from the area that we don’t want to lose this green space.”
Mrs Pink has been contacted for comment via the agent for the scheme.
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