Call for action over Penny Pot Lane hedgerow removal

An investigation has been launched by Harrogate Borough Council into whether laws were broken on Penny Pot Lane, but the pace of this has left some residents concerned.
An investigation has been launched by Harrogate Borough Council into whether laws were broken on Penny Pot Lane, but the pace of this has left some residents concerned.

As campaigners call for action over the removal of hedgerows and trees by a housing developer it has been revealed Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has yet to determine if legal action will be taken.

Hedgerows and trees along Penny Pot Lane in Killinghall were cut down by Persimmon Homes Yorkshire in April this year at the edge of a 600 home project.

An investigation has been launched into whether laws were broken, but the pace of this has left some residents concerned.

Henry Pankhurst of the Harrogate Civic Society said: “It has been very disappointing that something like this is taking so long for the council to pursue. To be frank I do not know what correspondence they are having with them (Persimmon Homes Yorkshire) but I think more action should be taken. The longer it goes on the more doubt it creates, we just want certainity.”

He added: “I would suggest to the council that this is one of their more important cases, no more time should be lost in pursuing this.”

Keith Wilkinson of the Bilton Conservation Group has submitted images of Penny Pot Lane before the hedges were removed as evidence to the council.

Mr Wilkinson said: “You can see what the road was like just by going through something like Google Earth. I have delivered all of this and more to HBC, if they cannot act with that kind of evidence then there is no chance of doing something about it.”

Nearby residents have said they have been left angry at how the stretch of vegetation was left, especially in mind of the animals that previously would have used it.

Catherine Wright, resident of Queen Ethelburhas estate said:"I acknowledge some hedgerows had to be removed for Persimmon Homes to create the access road to the site, but for them to remove the whole length of the boundary was absolutely disgraceful.

"The site has now been left exposed and removed the hedgerow at a time of year when birds would need it most. For this to happen when they are nesting in it was just cruel and thoughtless."

The council have said that their investigation is close to being concluded, with the evidence collected they will then decide if a case could be made.

Coun Rebecca Burnett, HBC Cabinet Member for Planning said: “Officers from Harrogate Borough Council’s Planning service have been conducting an investigation into the unauthorised removal of a hedgerow on Penny Pot Lane in Harrogate by property developers.

“We have been seeking to determine whether the activity has resulted in an offence that warrants prosecution under the Hedgerow Regulations.

“In the course of the investigation the developer has been cooperative and provided answers to our questions. We are now nearing the completion of the evidence gathering phase and once this has been concluded the council’s solicitor will determine whether there is sufficient evidence and if it is in the public’s interest to undertake legal action.

“Since launching our investigations, no further development has taken place on site. The site is subject to two planning applications, which have yet to be determined by the Planning Committee.”

Persimmon Homes Yorkshire have stated they have and will continue to cooperate with the council through this process.

Simon Usher, managing director of Persimmon Homes Yorkshire said: “We have responded fully to the council’s requests and believe they are considering the information provided.

“Should any more requests for information arise, we will cooperate fully.”