At the January Drara meeting residents expressed concern at the clearance of former Old Railway allotments – the stretch of land sandwiched between the Open House pub and London Road Station. Despite numerous attempts over several decades by local groups to have the area designated as a park and wildlife area, planning permission was granted in 2009, for the development of four two bedroom houses, when BHCCs refusal was overturned by the Planning Inspector.
Many residents were surprised to see the sudden clearance of vegetation in December, as the site has for years provided a green screen, and is home to wildlife. While this isn’t strictly in the Drara area, it is very visible to us, and the issue has been looked into in more detail by our neighbouring resident group, Southdown Rise at their January meeting.
It appears that planning conditions may well have been breached, as orignal wildlife surveys found slow worms on the site. Planning conditions state that the prior to development a survey must be under taken and any slow worms rehomed. While a survey was undertaken, this was done at a time when slow worms are hibernating. The issue has been raised with local councillors Leo Littman and Julie Cattell, and our MP Caroline Lucas who have all made enquiries as to what’s going on. In the meantime, a petition has been set up by Clare Tyler to save the slow worms – for anyone concerned to sign.
To see the land in its former glory see The Roundhill Society
Full planning application: BH2012/03286