Call to scrap plans for 470 new homes – to save mushrooms
Campaigners say plans for 470 homes should be scrapped – to save fields that could be home to rare mushrooms.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) wants plans for the two developments at Station Road, Newport, put on hold while surveys are carried out to check for the presence of a variety of waxcap mushrooms, which qualify for protected status in some areas.
It comes after the organisation started the process of designating the area as a ‘local wildlife site’.
The plans for 350 homes and extra care housing at land east and west of Station Road were approved by committee on June 24, 2015.
The proposal for 120 homes on Land South of Springfield Industrial Estate, Station Road, was approved on August 30, last year.
However, a report prepared for Telford & Wrekin planning committee says that between the granting of planning permission and the issuing of the official decision notice SWT told the council it had designated the land as a local wildlife site due to the presence of waxcap mushrooms and asked for the council’s “observations”.
In response the council said it had “concerns” about the process taken to designate the area, and the evidence the designation was based on.
A spokesman for the council said: “The Station Road site has a resolution to grant planning approval subject to agreeing Section 106 developer contributions which has now been done.
“The ecological value of the site was fully considered when the application was made in 2017.
“No further survey work or evidence has been provided since that time that warrants the site being considered as a Local Wildlife Site.”
John Hughes, development manager at SWT, said the organisation was seeking to protect green space, but agreed on the need for more evidence and wants a survey to be carried out in autumn.
He said: "Waxcap mushrooms are a really good indicator recognised at a national level where if you get a certain number of species it suggest this is an old unfertilised quite important meadow.
"It is not just about the fungi, it is about the wildlife associated with it. It is not necessarily visible but that does not mean it is not important."
He added: "What we need for a major planning application is to have all the information available to make the best decision so we need to make sure the area is surveyed in autumn when the fungi is showing.
"Let's get good information on this and then make a proper decision which is so often what local authorities will say."
Mr Hughes said SWT is also worried about the level of development in Newport and the loss of green space.
He said: "We currently have grave concerns about development in Newport. The people of Newport deserve better than living in a concrete jungle."