Wakefield children's woodland to be saved after agreement to alter housing estate plans

A woodland planted by children two decades ago is to be saved from a housing development after Wakefield Council announced a full U-turn on the plans.

By Nick Frame
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 8:37 am

More than 1,200 names had been added to an online petition to save hundreds of trees on the former Parkhill Colliery land land, off Park Lodge Lane in Eastmoor.

Bridge Homes was given planning permission to build 116 homes on the land last year as part of the latest City Fields development phase, but opposition then began to mount against felling the trees.

Last week the council said it would save around half of the trees due to pressure from campaigners, but has now relented to save the remainder.

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Hundreds of trees were planted by children in 2000.

Following discussions, Bridge Homes has agreed to alter their plans, which means the community woodland planted on the Parkhill site will remain untouched by the housing development.

Deputy leader of Wakefield Council, Coun Jack Hemingway, said: “I am very pleased that following developments this week we can now reassure residents and environmental groups, that in addition to the area of community woodland preserved by the council last week, Bridge Homes has also agreed to adjust their housing scheme to preserve the woodland planted by the local community on the site of their application.

“Pausing the scheme last week gave us and Bridge Homes the opportunity to reconsider how we could better protect the wooded area that is so special to the community, and I am grateful to Bridge for agreeing to the pause and now for agreeing to this adjustment.

"This solution will protect the community woodland and still allow their development to go ahead by excluding the woodland from the housing development.

Campaigners racked up more than 1,200 signatures on an online petition.

“Meeting the challenge of balancing the housing and welfare needs of our communities, alongside our determination to protect the environment will always be challenging.

But I am very pleased that as a result of this decision, we are able to preserve this woodland on council-owned land that means so much to the community.”

The Bridge Homes development was considered acceptable in planning terms and was approved in principle by the planning committee in December.

The new proposal will require an amendment to the submitted planning application, a period of consultation and further consideration by the committee before any development can go ahead.

Tony Watling, managing director of Bridge Homes, said: “We have recognised the strength of community feeling and as a responsible local developer, we are keen to demonstrate our environmental commitment by aligning ourselves with the Council’s wishes to preserve the community woodland.

"The development will still proceed but on a smaller scale than envisaged at the time of the application and committee decision in December.”

The existing trees were planted by schoolchildren in the year 2000, with funding secured with the Eastmoor Community Project.

The Bridge Homes proposal still includes in excess of 145 new trees to be planted, as well as 510 square metres of native trees along with further plants, hedges and shrubs and a significant financial contribution towards biodiversity enhancements off-site.