Harold Hill aid group says development plans will ruin deerly loved area
- Credit: AK Hussain Photography 2021
Conservationists claim that plans to build new homes in Harold Hill are going to ruin the habitat of deer who roam the area.
Despite receiving 185 objections - and only one comment in support - an application to build five houses on the land adjacent to Priory Road was granted at the council's planning committee meeting on February 11.
But members of the Harold Hill Deer Aid group - already worried by pre-existing welfare issues - have voiced their concerns about the future of these much-loved local animals.
Group founder Cllr Jan Sargent said: "For us, the threat of this development has triggered a very real concern. The area they are planning to use is not a patch of disused land without any value, this area is a wildlife corridor, a natural wildlife pathway to and from Dagnam Park Nature Reserve."
In response, the council said "there is no evidence" of deer living on the land set for development, adding: "Deer naturally roam, graze and may occasionally pass through the open space in the area as they forage for vegetation. The areas of vegetation at the site boundaries and on the adjoining Carters Brook will remain unaffected by the development."
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Yet the Harold Hill Deer Aid group - now boasting some 2,000 members - is not convinced. Cllr Sargent believes the "disruption and disturbance" caused by the development will have "a massive impact" on the deer, who may even be forced onto "extremely busy roads" as a result.
Deer safety is one aspect of the group's concern; another is how this will impact the community: "This decision will break so many hearts at a time when people are already extremely low. For some, becoming so close to our deer and nature has helped with depression and anxieties.
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"You just need to look at the sheer joy on people’s faces as they look upon such majestic creatures. To be so close to wildlife in a free natural setting is an experience many will never forget. How could they possibly even think of ripping these experiences away from us?"
The group vows to continue the fight.