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Newts put the brakes on York shopping centre

A £90 million shopping centre project in York designed by DLA Architecture has stalled following the discovery of a growing population of newts

Construction was due to start today [Tuesday] at the 97,500m2 Monks Cross retail development on the outskirts of York but work has been put on hold after the wet summer led to the newt population on the site growing from just 3 to 300.

Greater crested newts are protected by law. Natural England rules require the contractors to apply for licenses for the removal and rehoming of the species. This process will only be considered complete once no newts have been found on the site for 5 consecutive days. But currently the newts are in hibernation and any work to move them is unlikely to be possible before the spring.

Planning permission has been granted for a wildlife habitat across the road from the shopping centre site, where the newts will be rehomed.

The development of the shopping centre will unlock funding for a 6,000 seat community sports stadium, nearby. The newt situation looks unlikely to affect the construction of this which is set to begin in Summer 2014.  

Richard France, managing director of the site’s developer Oakgate estimated the newts had already cost them £300,000.

He said: ‘it Is far easier to move people out of homes than it is to move newts of a construction site’.

Work is now expected to start on site in Spring.

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