Monday, 16 May 2022

Slow worms to make way for new homes

Slow worms to make way for new homes

SLOW worms living on a field in Henley could be relocated to make way for new homes.

The town council, which owns a grass verge that would serve as the entrance to the development off Fair Mile, plans to move the creatures, which are legally protected, to 40 Acre Field, off Pack and Prime Lane.

This would allow Thames Properties to go ahead with its plan to build 52 houses and 20 flats on the 4.6-hectare field and for the council to sell the verge, or “ransom strip”.

The council is considering widening an access path to the two acres of land at 40 Acre Field to enable contractors to maintain the site by mowing it at least twice a year.

However, the current tenant of the field has raised concern about the public and contractors damaging his livestock.

Cath Adams, planning and project manager at the council, told a meeting of the recreation and amenities committee that the move of the slow worms had been agreed.

She said: “In order to set the site up and maintain it, there will need to be access for vehicles and contractors.

“The tenant is concerned about interference from tractors going through and the risk to his livestock.”

Ms Adams said that council staff met the tenant to discuss the options, including widening the path to allow vehicular access.

She said: “This has been agreed by Oxfordshire County Council and this would give us the dual benefit of wider access up until the slow worm area and, potentially, up to the Sue Ryder memorial garden, which would make it more accessible for motorised wheelchairs.”

She had obtained three quotes and the preferred contractor would be expected to install new fencing and gates to widen the path and allow access for the slow worm relocation for no more than £9,000.

Some of the money would come from the council’s developer contributions.

Councillor Ken Arlett said he thought the project was expensive and too complex. “I don’t support it and I think it creates more work than needs to be done,” he said.

The committee voted in favour of the recommendation, which will be discussed by the full council before a final decision is made.

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