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Historian speaks out about ‘threat to nature’ posed by house planning appeal

PUBLISHED: 15:09 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 17 June 2020

25 tree preservation orders were placed upon one sycamore tree and 24 elms last year. Picture: Nick Butcher

25 tree preservation orders were placed upon one sycamore tree and 24 elms last year. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

An historian and long-time neighbour of Koolunga House is calling upon Gorleston residents to “get objecting” over the “threat to nature” posed by a planning appeal in the building’s former grounds.

Michael Boon says history is repeating itself as he vows to Michael Boon says history is repeating itself as he vows to "bat off" another planning application in Koolunga's former grounds, now under separate ownership from the house itself. Picture: James Bass

Michael Boon, who has lived next door to the building for 43 years, said he has spent much of his adult life “batting off” planning applications which could threaten trees and wildlife at the site.

The initial planning application, submitted February last year, required the felling of a significant number of trees to make room for a bungalow and access to High Road.

Despite the applicants arguing these trees were of “low quality”, the bid was rejected by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

And while the bid was under consideration, 25 tree preservation orders were placed on elms and one sycamore in the grounds, which in the council’s view was proof that “loss of trees in this location would cause harm to the character of the conservation area”.

A planning appeal has been submitted over proposals for a bungalow, garage and new access on land next to Koolunga House in Gorleston. Picture: Robert SmithA planning appeal has been submitted over proposals for a bungalow, garage and new access on land next to Koolunga House in Gorleston. Picture: Robert Smith

But Herringfleet Developments, the applicant, nevertheless submitted an appeal against the council’s decision on May 14.

According to Mr Boon, a successful appeal will have grave consequences for Gorleston’s environmental health.

He said: “Though truly terrible in that it has taken so many lives, the coronavirus pandemic has led to one good thing: a greater public appreciation of nature.

“I live on Addison Road which backs onto Koolunga, and the environment under lockdown has come alive.

“You can see and hear butterflies, birds and even bats in the grounds.

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“There’s been no fumes, clear skies, little noise from traffic.

“To jeopardise all of that by turning one of Gorleston’s only green lungs into a building site would be scandalous.”

He added: “In 2017, eight trees at Koolunga and Addison Road were killed by having holes drilled in them and poison poured into them.

“One of those was my beautiful, 200-year-old Beech tree. It broke my heart to know that someone had deliberately and stealthily killed it off.

“We have to remember that once mature trees have gone they cannot be replaced overnight and the associated green environment declines with it.

“Because of coronavirus nature is fighting back, and we must help protect it.”

Representations against the appeal must be submitted before June 18, with Koolunga House leaseholder Robert Smith expressing disappointment at how such a “damning rejection of the plans” could now be challenged.

You can make representations for or against the appeal by visiting the government’s planning inspectorate website, quoting reference number 3249331.


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