A campaigner is urging housing developers to not rip up decades-old hedgerows as they make way for 6,000 new homes on the edge of a Hampshire village.
A petition has been started by Kayleigh Rooke, who lives in Knowle near Fareham, against the proposed removal of the hedgerows and trees by Welbourne developers.
Ms Rooke’s petition at Change.org has been signed by 1,720 people so far and wants to try and save what is left of the ‘wildlife corridor’ along Knowle Road.
She said the village has been let down, adding: “Knowle residents bought into the village concept, it was sold as Hampshire’s newest village. Now to destroy our tree line is a step too far.
“The green spaces they are removing are greater than the green spaces they are implementing.”
Once finished, the Welborne development will include 6,000 homes, schools, shops, green spaces, business and healthcare facilities located near the South Downs National Park and the Hampshire coast.
Councillor Craig Manuel, chair of Wickham and Knowle Parish Council, is encouraging people to get involved and voice their opinions if they want to see the current tree and hedge line preserved.
Fiona Gray, director of Buckland Development – the master developers of the scheme – said that by spring next year, more than 850 trees and more than 1,000 shrubs will be planted at Welborne.
Another 700 trees and 3.7km of hedge are then planned across verges at Welborne Park, Welborne Mile and Dashwood Park.
She said it is part of the landscaping strategy that wants to ensure more than 50 per cent of Welborne will be green space. The plan is to have wide green verges, a cycle and pedestrian paths along Knowle Road.
Councillor Manuel said: “One mile of trees and hedgerows along the Knowle Road (almost 30 acres) are planned to be cut down by Welborne developers. The beautiful entrance to Knowle will become unrecognisable, the only way to access the village will be driving through one mile of Welborne homes.”
Ms Rooke said she also has concerns over access to emergency vehicles as the road seems very narrow.
It is unclear if this latest campaign will have an impact because the developers said the vegetation removal is adhering to the planning permissions that have already been approved by Fareham Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and is in accordance with the licences issued by Natural England.
Developers said this is “collectively ensuring a balance between development and ecological concerns.”
Ms Rooke said she’s too late to save the hedgerows that have already been taken out but hopes to save what is left.
She said: “We may have time to save/preserve the south side. As most will have seen along Wickham Road they have already removed the majority of hedgerow along there, and now we have seen how much they have removed to install the new roundabout.”
Ms Gray added: “We recognise the concerns of local residents. We are engaging with local communities and making it easier to access information on planned significant works.”