The project includes 950 homes, a link road, a primary school, 40,000 sq ft of retail, 5,380 sq ft of offices and 100,000 sq ft of warehousing and was given the go-ahead at the council’s Strategic Planning meeting last week.
But the proposal also represents one of the most environmentally damaging schemes to be decided by the council in recent years. The 55ha development site will destroy valuable habitats including peatland and wildflower grassland. Lowland peatlands are internationally important wetland habitats and, like ancient woodland they are considered irreplaceable. Across the site, a network of tree lined ditches and hedgerows mark out the fan shaped ‘moss rooms’ where peat was cut in ancient times. The site is also a refuge for species which have seen dramatic declines nationally like the common lizard, the small heath butterfly and the rare willow tit.