Wildlife fears for major homes plan

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A rich wildlife habitat could be destroyed if a proposal for 500 homes and a nature reserve at Loscoe and Heanor gets the go–ahead.

Developers Strawsons Property and Omnivale Limited are due to submit an application to Amber Valley Borough Council for a mixture of houses at two separate sites.

Wild view: Melvin Harvey looks out across picturesque  former pit land behind Taylor and Furnace Lane.

Wild view: Melvin Harvey looks out across picturesque former pit land behind Taylor and Furnace Lane.

The proposal would see 210 homes built at the back of Taylor Lane and Furnace Lane, Loscoe - plus a further 290 at land off Newlands Road, Heanor.

Both sites have been proposed as suitable for building under Amber Valley’s Core Strategy.

But despite its classification as brownfield land - the previously worked Loscoe pit site behind Taylor and Furnace Lanes has flourished with rugged wildlife for the last 30 years.

Keen ornithologist Melvin Harvey’s Furnace Lane home would back right onto the smaller of the two sites – situated near picturesque Loscoe Dam.

He said: “It’s just a shame for the people of Loscoe, who have had 100 years of mining, then the outcropping.

“Now it’s all finished people can walk their dogs and children round here on a Sunday - are they really going to do that with a housing estate just there?”

The proposal would see 87 acres of green land in between the two housing sites ‘enhanced’, according to the developers, and made into a ‘community wildlife site’.

But the marshy, scrub land designated for building 210 of the homes would be too great a loss Mr Harvey, who runs a cattery with his wife Jane, said.

The 59-year-old walks up there everyday, he says, to record flighted wildlife for the British Ornithological Society.

He said the site is rich with bird-life from kingfishers to buzzards and even the tawny owl. Snakes, voles and bats have also been spotted on his regular jaunts to the wild spot.

“It’s ironic that it’s seen as brownfield,” he said. “Just because it was formerly a pit. The wildlife you get on here is actually better than you would get on a Green Belt site.”

He also believes that building homes near Loscoe Dam would reduce the number of birds nesting and feeding by the waters as low flying species would have their flight paths disturbed by the buildings.

But Nottingham based developers Antony Aspbury Associates say the proposed 87 acre nature reserve between the house builds will have a ‘country park’ feel and will make up for the loss of habitat. The Loscoe site is currently designated for use as employment land under the borough council’s 2006 Local Plan.

Director Mike Downes said: “There will be a loss of about seven hectares (17 acres) of land, but the remaining will be enhanced and will be better managed.”

Mr Downes said the firm is carrying out extensive bird and wildlife studies to mitigate the impact of the builds.

The proposal would see access to the Loscoe part of the site via Taylor Lane - often clogged up with parked cars and users of the recycling centre there as well as lorries turning into the Loscoe Chilled Foods factory.

A car park is proposed on Taylor Lane to alleviate the access issues.