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Newts hold up plans for new urban village

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Newts have brought work on a £40 million urban village to a standstill after the endangered animals colonised the site.

PRP Architects' plans for the 540 homes on the outskirts of York (AJ 30.10.03) were stopped after Great Crested Newts were found in torchlight searches on the site at Osbaldwick.

An outline planning application for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, submitted six months ago, will be held up until the problem is solved.

'We are not in the business of trampling on the site in our size-12s and stamping on local wildlife, ' said the foundation's director of development, Nigel Ingram. 'Some say it will affect the timing of the planning consent and that's yet to be decided.'

Another spokesman for the foundation said:

'There are all sorts of things we have to do with Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] to ensure the newts are looked after. They have to be carefully protected, but it doesn't mean the whole scheme has to be stopped.'

An environmental impact assessment on the 21ha of grassland and National Grid property last year failed to uncover the newts. But the animals may have migrated since its completion, he claimed.

PRP Architects refused to comment but the City of York said it would work with English Nature to ensure the newts' safety if needed.

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