Oct 28 2009 By Siba Matti
MORE than 700 residents have signed a petition opposing the development of nine homes on a Grade I listed nature conservation site.
The site, on land west of Woodfield Terrace and Dovedale Close, Harefield, is made up of dense woodland bounded by the Green Belt, allotment gardens, a public footpath and the village conservation area.
It is proposed that the site would be accessed by creating a new road leading from an existing private driveway between 69c and 69d, Dovedale Close.
The future of the site, which has been used as an orchard in the past, was discussed at a Hillingdon Council planning meeting last night. The proposed development had been recommended for refusal on the grounds that there was no need for local housing which can justify destroying the open land.
Planning officers also expressed concerns that the development would result in urban sprawl encroaching into the open countryside, which would be alien to the rural character of the area and affect the appearance of the Colne Valley regional park and surrounding Green Belt land.
Another issue lies in the fact that the site is accessed by and situated on a steep slope, which may cause difficulties for elderly and disabled residents.
This is a particular bone of contention for members of the Harefield Tenants and Residents Association.
Pauline Crawley, chair, said: "The planning report is pretty damning and reflects our own opinions of the proposal. The proposed access is totally unsuitable for a new development of houses, as it is very narrow, on an awkward incline and crosses over a private drive.
"The roads in the vicinity are already crowded and have parking problems, and this proposal would only worsen the situation. We are strongly opposed to the proposal but very confident that it will be refused."
Members of Harefield Village Conservation Panel also object vigorously to the application, saying the space between the two properties on Dovedale Close is only 3.16 metres wide and therefore inadequate for vehicle access.
According to the council's highway engineer, the access road needs to be at least 4.1 metres wide to allow two-way traffic, as well as refuse vehicles to turn around.
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust have suggested that an alternative location be sought for the development.
If it was approved, the trust hope conditions would be attached including no removal of trees, shrubs or hedges during bird breeding season; no works of site clearance until a badger survey has been carried out and bat boxes on trees and buildings.