Campaigners are calling on a local authority to halt plans for a country park as part of a 800-home development in Stevenage, after "metal barricades have trapped local deer".

As well as 800 new homes, the development on land known as Forster Country includes a primary school, shops, commercial space and public plaza.

Forster Country lies within the St Nicholas Conservation Area and includes author EM Forster's childhood home Rooks Nest House, Grade I-listed St Nicholas Church and Grade II-listed The Bury.

The campaign group Friends of Forster Country (FOC) has opposed the development plans from the outset, and is now reiterating calls on Stevenage Borough Council to halt plans for a country park on the development.

"The developer has erected miles of metal barricades across the fields where it is proposing to build a car park, toilet block, storage facility and electricity grounding station," FOC spokesperson Chris Naylor said.

"It also plans to create a mound out of 25,000 cubic meters of landfill on one meadow, and build 2.5km of 3.5metre-wide roads around and through the fields, placing speed humps, bollards, litter bins and seating around the site."

Mr Naylor said the group has been "horrified to find that Bellway Millers’ network of metal barricades across Forster Country has trapped local deer," where once were "wild herds roaming free".

He continued: "The meadows are home to deer, foxes, badgers, bats, buzzards and many more forms of wildlife - 400 protected species, including the Red Listed Skylark - as well as biodiverse plants and Hertfordshire woodland species like oak, hornbeam and wild cherry. Its century-old views are acclaimed by English Heritage.

"The urban park plan does not respect heritage recommendations or environmental and biodiversity advice, and already we are starting to see the tragic impact of this dreadful decision.

"This is a wasted opportunity to create something wonderful that could work in harmony with the wildlife that has roamed these fields for centuries.

"We are calling on the council to halt the urban park plans – it’s not too late – and for people to come to the planning meeting on November 29, so councillors can no longer deny the strength of local opposition to this vandalism."

At this meeting, access, layout and landscaping of the country park are due to be discussed by the council's Planning and Development Committee.

The developers have stressed that the metal fencing is temporary, and that their primary concern is to ensure the safety of both the public and wildlife.

A spokesperson for Miller Homes said: "Heras fencing has been installed around the perimeter of the land where construction works are taking place, to create a secure boundary that prevents any person or animal entering a construction zone.

"As there are public footpaths at various points within the site and these remain open for public access throughout our development works, these are also secured using Heras fencing to prevent accident or injury."

Referring to the dead deer, he said: "Whilst these images are disturbing, it remains unclear how the animal died. However, we are certain that the fencing had been tampered with. This has since been reinstated and regular boundary patrols take place to ensure the protective fencing remains fit for purpose.

"Should any further concerns be seen by the local community, they should contact the site management team directly to report the matter."

A spokesperson for Bellway said: "The temporary fencing installed at Forster Park, which runs along the perimeter of the development while still allowing access to the existing bridlepath and footpaths, is necessary to keep people, domestic animals, and wildlife safe – and allows local residents to continue to use the paths for recreational purposes whilst construction takes place for the new homes.

"We have a legal requirement to protect the public, which includes securing construction sites and preventing unauthorised access, where necessary by installing suitable fencing. All fencing is temporary."

She continued: "As a responsible developer, we also take our commitment to ensuring we protect any local wildlife seriously and work with ecologists to ensure our construction activity limits the impacts of our activities. Mitigating measure are put in place where specific protected species are identified, and we work closely with key stakeholders to ensure our obligations are fully met.

"We have protocols in place where our site teams perform daily checks to ensure the integrity of the fencing and report any incidents accordingly.

"Though no information regarding deer at Forster Park has been brought to our attention directly, we take these concerns seriously.

"If a member of the public sees an animal that they think may have been affected by the temporary fencing, we would encourage them to make contact with the site management team, whose contact information is clearly displayed around the development."

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Bellway also said biodiversity is "an important part of the work taking place at Forster Park", and that biodiversity calculations indicate the wider development site will lead to a 59 per cent gain in habitats and a 17 per cent gain in hedgerow – "significantly increasing the natural habitat of the area."

Stevenage Borough Council declined to comment due to the forthcoming planning meeting.