The fate of a “precious” badger sett will finally be known this week as a decision on whether a controversial Harrow development can go ahead will be made. Campaigners claim the 37-home Pinner Road plan would cause the “complete destruction” of the Harrow woodland that is home to a family of badgers.
More than 30,000 people from all over the UK have signed an online petition, dating back to late 2021, to “stop the Pinner Road development”. A previous application for 45 homes in four blocks of flats was withdrawn in 2022, to the delight of local residents who had battled the plans and felt they had been given a reprieve.
However, the latest iteration from developer MML Investments has reduced the number of flats by eight and includes a 30-metre ‘exclusion zone’ to protect the badgers with a view to moving them to a new home. One of the residents who started the original petition, Alia Lewis, believes the plan won’t work. She said: “In order to relocate the badgers to a new artificial sett they have to enforce a 30-metre exclusion zone but this cannot truly work as the land isn’t even 30 metres wide in most areas.”
In England and Wales, badgers and their setts are protected by law but licences for development can still be issued if it is justified. But Alia believes the badgers will “end up dead” as the land is closed off by the railway on one side, gardens on the other, and by roads at either end.
Dubbed The Sidings, the new plan would see 37 homes built in three blocks on a patch of land next to the Metropolitan line. It comprises 22 one-bedroom apartments, as well as 14 two-bedroom, and one three-bedroom.
As well as the petition, the application has received around 1,000 objections from people concerned, not only about the destruction of the badgers’ home, but also the lack of infrastructure, the loss of the woodland, increased pollution, and loss of privacy.
Objections from as far afield as Cardiff and York included calls for the “protection of flora and fauna in the area”, while locals suggested the amount of development risked “turning a green borough into a concrete jungle”.
One said: “The tall buildings of such concrete monstrosity through such beautiful natural surroundings will destroy the green trees, bushes, and the habitats of birds that sing chorus in the mornings. There are badgers, hedgehogs, and bats that live in this natural land. These living things will definitely suffer if such flats get built in this natural corridor of land.”
MP for Harrow West, Gareth Thomas, has also been vocal in his opposition to the plan. He said: “[…] the proposed development will be on a site with extensive woodland that is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna including badgers, bats, and wild birds.”
He added: “The loss of many of the existing, more established trees and the disruption to the wildlife currently living there, including within the protected badger zone, is hugely worrying and will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on the local environment and the biodiversity it supports.”
The developer suggests the new plans will “enhance the biodiversity on site and provide an acoustic barrier from the trains, whilst also maintaining the existing surveyed foraging routes of the badgers” and has worked closely with Natural England to ensure any impacts of the proposals on existing wildlife and nature are mitigated.
MML Consultant David Gregory said he appreciates the development “may not be popular with some” but claims the site needs “careful management and enhancement” due to trees being in poor condition, presence of the non-native Japanese knotweed, and it being used for fly-tipping.
All eyes are now on Harrow Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (November 22) when a decision on whether the plan can go ahead will be made.