Fury at Crest Nicholson's repeated breach of planning conditions at Westerleigh Mews in Yate
Updated 2:00pm Thursday 27th February 2014 in News By Alexandra Womack, senior reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury
PEOPLE living next to a construction site where 70 new houses are being built are furious that developers Crest Nicholson are continuing to flagrantly breach planning conditions.
Residents of Brookthorpe in Yate, which backs onto the former Coopers factory site, say their lives have been plagued with problems caused by the construction company refusing to adhere to conditions set by South Gloucestershire Council.
Crest Nicholson workers have been repeatedly watched ignoring council rules not to dig in a tree root protection area and last week, incensed residents called enforcement officers who caught the company breaching conditions red-handed.
Despite a temporary stop notice prohibiting Crest from using machinery near the tree roots, on Tuesday a worker was photographed digging on site.
Garry Anstey, whose property in Brookthorpe backs onto the protected area, said: “Literally within half an hour of the council going out to see them last week they had carried on again.
“They have also tried to put in gabion baskets and have damaged trees and wildlife and trampled on newly-planted saplings.
“They have shown complete disregard for the wildlife and have pushed things right to the limit every time.”
Mr Anstey, who has lived in his property for four years, added: “Crest Nicholson will do the damage and then say oh sorry, we didn’t mean to but they know exactly what they are doing.
“The whole process has been very frustrating.”
Yate councillor Chris Willmore said: “ A responsible developer would not be behaving like this.
“These trees have taken 100 years to establish and from start to finish, the wildlife corridor has been something residents wanted to protect. But there has been a complete disregard by the developer and the fines should the council prosecute are not even high enough to act as a deterrent.”
She added: “When developers behave like this I would not want to buy a house from them because, if they have cut corners we can see, what other corners we can’t see have been cut?”
South Gloucestershire Council said it had found evidence that machinery had been operated within the root protection area.
A spokesman said: “Further to complaints received by our planning enforcement team last week, council officers made an urgent visit to the site and also attended a neighbouring property to speak with local residents. Following discussions with representatives from Crest Nicholson, a temporary stop notice and a breach of condition notice were served on Thursday. February 20.
"Council officers have continued to liaise with Crest Nicholson to ensure that they are fully aware of the contents of these notices and the arboricultural report that was submitted with the planning application, and we hope that this will prevent against any further risk to the trees and wildlife corridor."
He said if the breach of condition notice was ignored, the council would consider prosecuting the developer.
A spokesperson for Crest Nicholson, said: “As a member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, we take our responsibility to protect the environment in and around our developments very seriously.
“We sincerely regret that on this occasion an error was made but we have been working closely with the South Gloucestershire Council to ensure this is corrected and we are now working within the parameters of our agreement.
“The local planning enforcement officer has visited us on site this week and confirmed he is satisfied we are meeting requirements. Westerleigh Mews is an important development of new homes for Yate and we respect that the wildlife corridor is both environmentally sensitive and an integral feature.
“To make sure it continues to thrive, we will only be hand-digging in this area, as agreed with the council.”
Last year, the company was blamed for causing flooding to properties in Brookthorpe after removing trees from the root instead of grinding them down.
Mr Anstey said the entire process had been ‘very frustrating’ particularly as he and his neighbours claim they were never made aware of amendments to the original planning application.
“I bought the house knowing there was going to be development but we were led to believe it would be two-storey houses gable end on,” he said. “We have ended up with three-storey town houses with balconies directly overlooking us.
“The whole thing is very different from what we envisaged.”
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