St Albans wildlife meadow fight increasing in strength

PUBLISHED: 12:35 16 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:35 16 July 2014

The wildlife meadow adjacent to Bedond Lane

The wildlife meadow adjacent to Bedond Lane

Archant

Nearly 170 residents have already signed an online petition calling on St Albans council to save a wildlife meadow owned by a national housing company.

The meadow between Bedmond Lane and Mayne Avenue in St Albans has long been used as an open space for families, dog-walkers and the local community.

But the owner of the land, Banner Homes, which has recently been taken over by the Cala Group, has submitted a planning application for change of use of the land for the keeping of horses and fencing to keep them in.

If successful that would result in the meadow being cleared of the trees, shrubs and wildflowers that grow there as well as having a huge effect on the wildlife.

Concerned residents, particularly around the Verulam Estate, believe that the planning application is the first step towards building housing on the site.

Earlier this year, the meadow was designated an Asset of Community Value (ACV) which imposes conditions on the owners of the land if they wish to sell it. Banner Homes has appealed against the ACV decision and a hearing is due to be held on September 26.

The Verulam Residents Association is spearheading the campaign against the planning application and numerous comments placed on the website with the petition show the strength of feeling.

One resident suggested it was a deceitful way of getting permission to build houses and another has called for it to be redesignated as a site of Special Scientific Interest because of the variety of wildflowers, including orchids, that grow on the meadow and the butterflies they attract.

The St Albans-based Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has added its voice to the objections to the scheme, describing the meadow as “one of the best areas of species-rich grassland in the St Albans area and one of significant ecological importance because of the plant species and the quality of the habitat.”

Local councillor Fred Wartenberg has asked for the planning application to be called in for consideration by a committee.

The online petition can be found at www.petitions24.com/saving-the-bedmond-lane-wildlife-meadow

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