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Thanet Trees group dress as zombies to protest Westwood housing development site

A crowd of ghoulish protesters descended on the entrance to a former Thanet farm to oppose a potential housing development.

Scores of people armed with grey make-up, masks and branches, arrived outside Westwood Lodge, which borders Ramsgate Road and Poorhole Lane at Westwood.

Some protesters dressed up as zombies to reflect an 'environmental apocalypse'
Some protesters dressed up as zombies to reflect an 'environmental apocalypse'

The demonstration, organised by local campaign group Thanet Trees, is calling for a stop to tree clearance on the land until a new ecology survey can be carried out on the wildlife.

Amelia Gregory, a spokeswoman for the group, said the idea behind the zombie theme was to remind people of the potential of an 'environmental apocalypse'.

The group has criticised the felling of trees when Thanet District Council has pledged to combat environmental issues in the past year.

She said: "Even though they have declared a climate emergency, they don't seem to have a coherent plan to put that into place.

"We’re continuing to lose trees."

One of the organisers said around 50 people attended
One of the organisers said around 50 people attended

She added: "We think there's huge amounts of empty properties in Thanet.

"There needs to be a huge push to renovate empty property and not decimate our countryside and woodlands.

"We want to hold Thanet District Council responsible for declaring a climate emergency and then continuing to do nothing about it."

The protest, dubbed a Plague on Westwood Village, was sparked by the start of tree clearance work on the site.

Another reason for the zombie theme was because it has been claimed the site was a former Black Death medieval burial pit, which the group believes needs further investigation.

The proposed housing development on the site could bring 153 properties to the area.

An aerial view of the Westwood Lodge site
An aerial view of the Westwood Lodge site

The original outline planning application for housing was refused by Thanet Distrcit Council in 2015 but granted on appeal in 2017 following the Planning Inspectorate's observation that the local authority had failed to detail a five-year housing supply plan.

Now the applicant, Place for People Homes Ltd, has just submitted a new 'reserved matters' application to the council covering site access, landscaping, appearance and layout.

The wildlife threatened, says the group, includes birds, bats, slow worms, and reptiles as well as potentially badgers and hedgehogs.

But the scheme does protect many trees and others will be planted as well as a woodland trail created.

The grade II-listed Westwood Lodge, built in 1864, and the 17th century cottage and the gates will be preserved on site as part of the scheme.

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