FEARS have been raised that new affordable homes in a rural area near Wimborne could push out reptiles.

Property developers are looking to build six new homes on 0.3ha of land off Holt Lane and Springfields in Holt in a planning application to Dorset Council. 

The scheme would comprise a shared ownership detached four-bedroom house, two shared ownership semi-detached three-bedroom homes and three affordable three-bedroom terraced homes. 

Each property will come with a garage, except for the affordable homes which come with separate parking. 

But developer Sterling Housing Association has said the homes will be ‘rural exceptions affordable housing scheme’. 

Bournemouth Echo: Land off SpringfieldsLand off Springfields (Image: Google)

This means they are small sites located on the edge of existing rural settlements and allow land to be provided below market value for residential development. 

A design and access statement by Chapman Lily Planning said the housing association looked to “re-engineer the scheme to reduce build costs (for instance reducing the extent of hard surfaced access/circulation areas). 

The firm said an eye has been kept on householders’ needs for a study which they said has changed through Covid, with flexible and work from home “now commonplace”. 

Dorset Council’s local housing needs assessment identifies an annual need of 950 net affordable homes over the 18-year period between 2021 and 2039. 

But not everybody is happy with the scheme, including Dorset Wildlife Trust which has formally objected because of “insufficient ecological information”. 

Conservation officer Mariko Whyte said: “No compensation or mitigation for the loss of the grassland on site is proposed, instead financial compensation is identified as a means for offsetting the loss of the grassland in this location.  

“It is disappointing to see that there is no consideration of retaining any existing grassland on site, even within proposed retained areas of habitat provided in mitigation for reptiles on site.  

“It would be desirable to see retention of species rich turf from the existing site within the buffer area rather than the introduction of a generic seed mix which is not of local origin.” 

He added that the trust has concerns about a “misrepresented” block plan of large mature oak trees and that the reptile mitigation proposals “seem to propose pushing any reptiles on site towards a small, poorly connected area of land” that is “heavily shaded”.