Sue Barnes, who lives right next to the Bonhams Field site in Yapton, said the hedgerow was centuries-old – featuring in maps dating back to the 17th century – and key for wildlife in the area.
She said: “The news that part of the hedgerow was to be removed has shocked and angered all residents of Yapton who value heritage and local wildlife.
“There’s massive amounts of local feeling against it.”
Seaward Properties were granted planning permission to build 56 homes at the site back in 2017.
In February this year, it was granted further permission to remove ‘a small section of the hedgerow to the south’ of the land.
A spokesman said: “Only a small section of hedgerow was agreed to be removed following consultation with Yapton Parish Council last year as it was felt by the Parish Council that the area of public open space which would include a community orchard, would benefit from an open and more flowing aspect.
“This is a good example of how Seaward Homes listens to and engages with the local community as the scheme was amended in several ways to accommodate suggestions and ideas to improve the development at this site.”
But Sue said the ‘small section’ was 16 metres long and was actually the most important part of the hedgerow as it went up against a listed wall, providing a safe corridor for animals as they navigate their way around it.
“It’s the only way that wildlife can get around from one safe place to another,” she said. “There’s so little space for them left.”
Sue added: “We need to stand up and make a fuss about it. Otherwise the wildlife disappears.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Yapton will disappear under tarmac.”
Vicky Newman, chairman of the planning committee at Yapton Parish Council, said the parish council had objected to the initial planning application for the site back in 2017 and as well as the second last year – which was then amended to address key concerns it had made.
She added: “Yapton Paris Council has always felt that the community’s needs, as well as the local importance of Bonhams Field, has not been truly appreciated or reflected in the applicant’s approach to this site.”
A spokesman for Arun District Council said the plans had been subject to consultation with the council’s ecologist, adding that the permission included the creation of open space and tree planting, including a community orchard.
Also included in the approved scheme were several biodiversity enhancements, which include bird and bat boxes and reptile habitat, the spokesman said.
Plans for more homes at Bonhams Field
Seaward Properties is currently undertaking a community engagement activity ahead of plans to submit a new planning application for Bonhams Field, which will include 19 extra homes – bringing the total to 75.
The spokesman said this was in response to changes in local housing need whereby more one, two and three-bed homes were needed – both open market and affordable.
“The additional homes are being catered for within the original footprint of the 56 unit scheme and so no public open space or green space is being lost within the site layout,” the spokesman said.
“To clarify, the main hedgerow running through the site (as well as all boundary hedges) will be retained and we have no plans at all to remove it through either the permitted 56 unit scheme or the emerging 75 unit scheme.”
Sue said residents in Yapton had already permitted more than its quota of new homes in the village.
“The infrastructure in Yapton cannot sustain further growth and is already bursting at the seams,” she said.
“Our roads are congested, our schools, over subscribed, our doctors surgery struggles to cope and there is flooding whenever it rains, with unpassable roads.
“Without major investment into all of these services immediately, how can the village cope with more housing developments?”
Find out more about the plans for the land here.