Council investigation following former Laleham Gap tree felling complaints

Campaigners at the former Laleham Gap site

Thanet council has confirmed it is investigating whether planning conditions are being adhered to after some 20 campaigners  visited the former Laleham Gap school site in Cliftonville to voice concerns over the felling of mature trees and the disturbance of bats and birds during development.

The land off Northdown Park Road is being developed for 70 houses following a Kent County Council ‘land swap’ with the school moving to Ozengell Place in Ramsgate in 2016.

The homes are being developed under the name of Mulberry Place by Orbit Housing and will consist of a mix of affordable rent, shared ownership and full market sale properties when completed in 2021.

But members of the Thanet Trees group say they are concerned about “the mass removal of mature trees and shrubs” at the site by contractors McCulloch Homes.

The group say they have emailed enforcement at Thanet council and ward councillors in a bid to stop the fellings.

However, Orbit Housing says it is working closely with an environmental specialist and plans to carry out replanting at the site.

They say adequate protection for Pipistrelle bats and nesting birds does not appear to have been in place and have questioned why slow worms found on the site were not moved to Dane Valley Woods.

A spokesperson for Thanet Trees said: “Laleham Gap was once surrounded by mature borders and large trees providing a much needed habitat for our diminishing wildlife, and bisected by a beautiful and peaceful wooded lane much used and loved by local residents.

“Why has all the destruction of trees and hedges taken place during bird nesting season and who has been checking for nests and how?

“The rare Pipistrelle bat lived on the Laleham Gap site – but the developers have felled trees where they put bat boxes. Numbers across the UK had fallen 70% by 1993. The main culprit is fragmentation of habitat and loss of habitat: mature hedgerows and trees. Pipistrelle bats emerge from their roosts up to an hour after sunset and often follow linear features such as hedges, streams or fences to and from feeding sites. How can they possibly do that on this site, when all those features have been removed?”

Thanet Trees say they believe the development has gone ahead without adhering to conditions put in place when planning permission was agreed in 2016. They have also questioned whether an appropriate licence was obtained via Natural England.

According to documents lodged with Thanet council in 2017 surveys for reptiles and bats were carried out prior to the development.

An adult count of four slow worms was found at the school site. A total of eight bats were found, comprising four Common Pipistrelle and four long-eared, of these three Common Pipistrelle and three Long-eared emerged from the Laleham building and one common Pipistrelle and one Long-eared were emergent from the Montrose building.

Documents state the slow worms were destined for a move to Windmill Community Gardens, saying: “Windmill Community Gardens is a site which specialises in gardening, wildlife and environmental crafts involving the local community, located 1km from donor site. A survey was untaken and a suitable site was located within the community gardens, the forest garden.”

Documents also state that ten wooden bat boxes were to be put on retained mature trees around the site and all 70 new build structures will have a bat roosting feature included into their construction.

Orbit say replanting will be carried out at the site.

Thanet Trees say trees with the boxes have now been felled.


Thanet council has confirmed enforcement officers are investigating.

A spokesperson said: “Following complaints by several nearby residents, our planning enforcement team are currently investigating the former Laleham Gap school site to ensure conditions attached to their planning permission are being complied with. These include matters relating to trees and ecology.  Information submitted as part of the planning process for the development of the site is available on the council’s website here: using reference 14/0518.

“Any allegations about harm to protected species through the removal of trees should be referred to Kent Police.”

‘Working closely with environmental specialist’

James Nicholson, Operations Director at Orbit, said: “We care about our communities and that includes the environment where people live. We are working closely with an environmental specialist to determine how to protect local wildlife and the habitat during construction.

“The trees and shrubs that have been removed were in the latter stages of their life cycle and in poor condition. As part of planning consent, we will be replacing them with an increased number of brand new trees and shrubs as part of our final landscaping.

“The 70 new homes are being developed on a former brownfield site that had been derelict for some time. When completed in 2021, the new homes will offer a mix of affordable rent, shared ownership and market sale homes.”


  1. If you cared Orbit you would not have gone ahead and chopped the trees
    and bats are a protected species
    but thanet council did the same with another school
    traces of a bat were found but they demolished
    thanet council love demolishing

    well the officers and the conservatives have destroyed thanet ….

  2. Survey done in 2017 is fine but did someone check before felling took place as animals are known to go in and out of the nesting area as and when to much noise like chain saws etc. My garden has deepening on amount of activities going on has 14 slow worms all were here when we moved in up to 20 at the most also bat’s and a few birds nesting still but we have noticed a lot more bat noise and at dusk we see more than usual in the street light. We only have a small garden. They say they have checked the ground and trees for wildlife but is the person who did it actually qualified to do this and I wonder if certificate for the work done is legal. If my small garden has this amount on an area the size of building site with minimal disturbance what would the count be lots more I have been told by a professional. How many bat’s, birds and slow worms were moved I will try to find out.

  3. Another developer who couldn’t give a toss about nature. All developers now spout the same bullshit and claim trees on their sites are at the end of their life cycle. Do these developers actually know how old trees can live ? The developers and The environmental specialist they use should be held accountable for wildlife crime and crimes against nature.

    Nature cannot compete with rich developers who rape the landscape for a quick profit.

  4. All these issues should be sent per eMail to your Local Councillor’s, so that they, in turn, can report all this to the TDC Senior Officers.
    Trouble is that the trees have now been felled, so, they need to insist on new trees being planted along with new shrubbery. Maybe nature can then return to this site in the future.
    Despicable, as their (Builders) actions have been, a long time cure is possible. I think that for every felled tree, 2 (two) replacements should be planted, and plenty of new shrubbery too.
    After this awful action, there must in future, new guidelines made Law (easy) and Builders must abide or risk being sued to kingdom come.

  5. Any mention of a Tree protection order on site? Would have made it difficult to remove the trees. Council tree officers notoriously strict, if there was a blanket tree protection order they would of have a singular drawn out long prosess to remove trees. New Developments are getting away with blue murder. How much social housing?????? Will it decrease in numbers before the development is complete to give more profit to the developers? Fishing goings on. Public and wildlife end up paying price as per usual. Not good original habit or some semblance of it needs to be protected not eradicated and rebuilt new. Ridiculous statement.

  6. That’s right, how dare we make way for people to have somewhere to live? I don’t hear any of these tree huggers saying too much about the young children in Thanet being some of the most deprived in the country depending on charity for meals in the school holidays. By the way, how many slow worms were destroyed when the houses you live in were built? But don’t worry as long as the birds and bees and bats etc are OK they’ll sleep well at night. Sad individuals!

    • What an absolutely ridiculous and selfish thing to say. Thanet is one of the most deforested areas in the civilised world, we are suffering from pollution because idiots like you think it’s fine to cut down are last remaining tree stocks.
      I think you need to read a book on symbiotic relationships between humans and animals, without those bees that you want to eradicate we won’t have food, without those birds we would be overrun by mosquitoes and flies.
      Perhaps it would also make sense that some of these so called deprived families only had children if they could afford them, a lot of these deprived parents don’t want to work, have never worked and expect everything given to them by the state.
      You are indeed a sad individual with limited knowledge of nature and how important our relationship with the natural world is to our survival.

    • Seen it all before I guess you refer to me I would have replied earlier but I checked out what I understood to be true but I needed fact here goes no slow worms, snakes, bat’s, birds or dragon and damselfly were harmed due to proper ground hedge and tree husbandry practice as it was marshey land all animals were moved to similar habitats as used to during the building works a pair of mice built a nest which stopped work on that part of build for a few weeks but didn’t delay the rest of no tree hugger as you think I just think to many building firms are only interested in the money they can make and don’t care about running rough shod over the small man. All they have to do is place any animals found in a similar habitat birds & bat’s should be allowed to Finnish breeding if nest are habitated most just want animals to be given the same chance to live a life as you or me is that not fair we all have a part to play in this world let’s not destroy it for our children.

  7. Nobody cares anymore about anything, not even the authorities. When developers want to get on with it nothing is said or checked. I am pleased we have the community groups we do in Thanet to take these matters up with those who should be doing their jobs properly but aren’t.
    The housing going up there will not help those who really need it, it’s all about profit with Orbit!

  8. Concerned? I certainly would be concerned if our country was run by over educated thumb sucking idiots like you.Tell the hungry kids to read a book about symbiotic relationships you Pratt.
    I do hope you enjoy being governed by that other over educated twit B. Johnson. You really are quite bonkers my dear!

    • Seen it all before but don’t understand it, your comments just show an utter lack of knowledge for the world around you.
      You could easily have been one of the natives from Easter Island, it’s an interesting story of overpopulation and the consequences of using all your natural resources and bugger the repercussions.

      A lot of These hungry kids only have their unemployed slacker parents to blame for their situation. Perhaps if their parents spent their spliff money and fake eyelash money on food their kids wouldn’t go hungry, better still, they could have spent their beer money on condoms.

      Some people argue that having kids even when you can’t afford them is a human right, well what about the rights of the kids bought into this world by selfish lazy parents whose only concern is where their next spliff is coming from?

      I might be bonkers according to you but at least I work hard for a living and don’t Claim my “wages “from the welfare state.
      Unfortunately too many parents spend hundreds on trainers, fake nails, Xbox’s, cannabis and beers and then claim food and housing poverty.

  9. Looks like I’ve touched a nerve me old stuffed shirt, you really ought to join the real world sometime as clearly your one eyed view of poverty is quite appalling. Lets leave it there as you and I will never see eye to eye, particularly as I have two and yours in situated in the middle of your rather pronounced forehead. Sleep well with them bats.

  10. Ignorance can be bliss but in your case I would call it stupidity.

    Far from touching a nerve you just reinforce the stereotype of
    The unemployed slacker who wants the world gifted to them, you believe that your entitled to everything but give nothing in return.

    Perhaps you could have spent some time in work rather than working the benefits system.

    The welfare state was invented to support the most needy, not support unemployed mouth breathers who give nothing back to society.

    Taxpayers money should not be spent on spliffs, fags booze and hair extensions for the bone idle. Contrary to what a lot of
    Unemployed wasters believe, signing on is not a career.

    Rather than being a burden to society perhaps you could contribute positively rather than prey on the real workers that subsidise the unemployed and pay for the excesses of the slackers that then claim poverty while puffing on their joints and swig on their beers.

  11. So you’ve decided I’m an out if work drain on the state merely because I have a different view to you! I’m not going to lower myself to inform you and your tree hugging friends of my status, you wouldn’t believe it as you are convinced that to have a consideration for those less fortunate automatically makes you amscrounger. Wrong my old lovely, just like your warped view of society. You are an unbelievable bigot and a very sad individual. Get nanny to tuck you in with a nice cup,of cocoa. Nite nitexxx

  12. Read the thread Phyliis. I’m fed up with do-googers more worried about slow worms, bats and trees while a lot of the countries children depend on charity for food.Theyre quick to defend flora and for a ignoring social issues like child poverty.That’s it. I don’t care if I’ve ruffled some feathers it’s about time these liberal elitists were put right. Bye!

  13. I know a lot of people who claim benefits, live in social housing and a few use food banks, but do you know what they all have in common? They all wear trainers that cost £150, they all have the latest Xbox games, they all have massive flat screen TVs and most of them smoke weed, fags, gamble and get pissed regularly, all paid for by the welfare state, then because they have wasted their government “wages” they then claim poverty.
    Perhaps if people didn’t milk the system that others have to pay for then more people would be sympathetic.
    I sincerely hope you haven’t got pets because your complete lack of empathy towards animals and wildlife is shocking. Advocating the suffering of animals and the wilful destruction of their habitats is a precursor to becoming a sociopath. I think you need counselling, lots of counselling.

  14. I’m bored with your nonsense. I see you’ve had more to say on another site. Hope I never need to depend on you for any help, your too busy cuddling trees and playing with worms and bats. Bats, what an apt description of you and the rest of your mob. By the way, you didn’t tell me how many trees and what wildlife was murdered when wherever you live was built, which by the sound of it it’s probably an anthill or a cave somewhere in the deepest depths of Thanet. I’m off, I’ve got a life to live, see if you can get one you nutter!

  15. Go smoke your spliff and drink your special brew.
    It’s safer and more rewarding saving trees than talking to sociopaths, enjoy your government funded high, goodnight.

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