St Albans neighbours react badly to ivy removal amid planning dispute

Workmen taking away the ivy.

Workmen taking away the ivy. - Credit: Archant

A group of neighbours are outraged that a “wildlife habitat” opposite their homes has been destroyed.

Workmen taking away the ivy.

Workmen taking away the ivy. - Credit: Archant

Residents of Paxton Road have objected to an application to build six flats behind their homes on London Road, where there is currently a garage.

The building is covered in a wall of ivy and the locals say is a haven for birds, wasps, and bats which they have seen in the foliage.

Protecting this natural wall is one of the residents’ chief objections to the pending planning application.

Therefore the neighbours were outraged when they woke up on September 3 to find the developer, MO Properties Ltd, had already sent in workmen to start its removal.

The ivy wall before.

The ivy wall before. - Credit: Archant

James Ellis, who has lived in Paxton Road with his family for more than three years, believes this was done to preemptively neutralise objections.

The 41-year-old described the developer’s behaviour as aggressive and bullying: “If the planning permission was granted it would be reasonable to take it down but one of the objections is to do with the ivy so he’s trying to remove that objection before it’s approved.

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“It just seems like the developer thinks the residents can’t do anything about it so he is going to do it regardless.”

The residents also object because rear windows to the new development would encroach on their privacy and there is no extra parking proposed for an already traffic congested area.

Another resident, Stuart Cocks, has lived on the street for 27 years: “I feel very sad. They have come along with their huge cherry picker and with their mechanical cutter, without any regard for wildlife. It’s sickening and disgraceful.”

MO Properties’ agent said removing the ivy had nothing to do with the planning application: “My client has only recently acquired the building, earlier this year, and was keen to remove the ivy at the earliest opportunity due to the significant damage he has found it is doing to the building’s structure.

“However, you also ought to be aware that my client commissioned an independent ecological survey of the building, including the ivy, some months ago. This has shown that neither is a habitat for wildlife, including protected species.”

Head of planning for St Albans district council, Tracy Harvey, said: “We were made aware ivy has been removed from one of the building’s walls. However, the removal of the ivy does not require planning permission or consent under the building regulations.”