AN INVESTIGATION has been launched by the council and Dorset Police over the clearance of land in a Highcliffe woodland.
Residents contacted BCP Council and councillors after an excavator was seen clearing an area at Jesmond Wood last week.
Brentland Ltd has submitted plans to build 17 houses with a new vehicular access on the site.
A local authority tree officer suggested that the applicant could peg out the site to check the impact the proposed properties would have on trees as this was a key issue in the planning application.
However, a BCP Council spokesperson said at no stage was it suggested that site clearance should take place to do the pegging.
“This has happened as the result of the actions by the developer and not at the council’s request,” the spokesperson said.
They added: “There was no request for any land to be cleared and we do not condone this action.
“We are disappointed that the developer has linked the request for pegging to the clearance that has since been carried out as at no stage have the council requested any clearance to take place.
“Our officers have been to the site and are investigating.
“The planning service, including tree and biodiversity officers remain in communication with the agent for this site as that investigation progresses.”
Residents said they were extremely disappointed to see the site clearance take place, adding that they were concerned about the impact it would have on the wildlife habitats which had been present on the site.
A Dorset Police spokewoman said the force received a report on Saturday, June 25, that protected land in Jesmond Avenue had been cleared.
The report had been sent to the rural crime team for investigation.
In a post on Twitter, BCP Council deputy leader Philip Broadhead said: “Planning have advised they absolutely did not condone that.
“What has been done there is completely wrong and not in any way supported by the council. Personally, I was appalled to see that.”
The latest planning applicant from Brentland Ltd is the company’s fourth for the site. Two previous schemes were refused, while another was withdrawn.
Its current proposal includes upgrading an existing footpath in the woodland and providing a landscaped communal open space.
If approved, 16 four-bed and one three-bed family homes would be built with the removal of more than 200 trees from the site.
The application is currently being considered by council planners, with it expected to go before the planning committee at a public meeting.