A group of Bramley residents are campaigning against plans to pull down protected trees on historic woodland and replacing them with three light industrial units and car parking.
Residents living in the Houghley Gill area have been fighting a planning application submitted at Hill Top Commercial Centre for more than a year.
They are horrified at the loss of trees protected by tree preservations orders (TPOs) and claim woodland on the small area of land affected dates back to at least the 18th century.
One of the objectors is Stefaney Raee. She told the Dispatch:
“Houghley Gill is in a conservation area and is teeming with wildlife and has ancient trees. I often see bats there, along with a wide variety of birds.”
“We have maps from 1711 and have done much research on the history of this beautiful area. Sadly, over the past 30 years or so the surrounding area has been bulldozed and residential properties built all around it. Gaunts’ latest attempt is the final straw and needs to be stopped.
“Leeds City Council have been hopeless and our local councillors have gone to ground. We feel we have no support.”
Another resident, Angela Yeoman, has submitted one of 17 objections to the scheme. She has raised concerns about extra traffic in the area – and fellow objector Kathereyn Moran added:
“The property marked on the map was the former caretaker accommodation for St Bernadette’s Community Special School unit until it was demolished in the 1990s. Since that time the land has become a natural haven for wildlife which includes bats (protected species), frogs/toads (protected species) in accordance with “European Protected Species”. Other wildlife include squirrels, foxes, owls, woodpeckers, jays, wood pigeons, robins and a variety of small birds.”
But an arboricultural report submitted with the application suggests many of the trees have limited value and adds:
“It is evident that both protected and remaining ‘trees’ on the site are of poor quality, inappropriate material with poor potential.”
Developers say in their submission that the ‘current ecological value of the site is low and there would be no detrimental impact to any European Protects Species or their habitat due to the development’. They also say increase in traffic would be minimal and the extra units would not cause noise disruption to residents.
Cllr Alison Lowe (Lab, Armley) said she was broadly in favour of the application as it led to the creation of new jobs. She added:
“We know the land is going to be built on at some stage and personally I would rather it was an extension of local businesses than new housing.
“Councillors have reflected and represented the views of local residents throughout the course of this planning application. It’s a difficult balancing act. On one hand councillors must reflect the views of local people who want to retain Houghley Gill in its current form and who believe that it’s a beautiful area which should be maintained for the next generation and beyond.
“On the other hand it abuts a thriving commercial centre which includes a number of innovative micro-businesses which employ local people.
“However this application plays out we will always want to support local people and will be working hard to guarantee local voices are heard.”
The planning application and its documents can be read in full here.