A designated nature site in York is going up for auction.
Severus Hill in Holgate is due to be sold off in just over three weeks’ time, in a move that has worried councillors and campaigners.
The former reservoir, long overgrown with trees, shrub and grassland, is a designated Site of Importance to Nature Conservation.
A 2017 bid to build 43 homes on the site, owned by Yorkshire Water, was refused partly because it would have caused “very substantial harm to local biodiversity”.
Now though, the four acre plot is up for sale and is being marketed as ripe for development.
It is due to be auctioned on Wednesday, 25 October, with a guide price of £95,000.
The site has been put up for sale by Keyland Developments, the property trading arm of Yorkshire Water owners Kelda Group.
Auction House, which will conduct the sale, says of Severus Hill: “This former service reservoir and land is now rather overgrown but should be of interest to any developers and speculators looking for an opportunity they can add some real value to.
“At present the site does not have any planning permission and any interested parties are advised to do their own research in this regard.”
The famous water tower, which can be seen for miles around, is not included in the sale.
Rich in wildlife
When Yorkshire Housing and Strategic Team Group applied to build 43 houses on the site off Bouthwaite Drive, it sparked a major campaign of opposition.
The Friends of Severus Hill was established to save the site from development.
More than 150 letters of objection were submitted to City of York Council, along with a 115-signature petition against it.
Wildlife seen in the area included bird species such as sparrowhawks, tawny owls, woodpeckers and waxwings.
Foxes, hedgehogs, voles and bats also thrived in the habitat. The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust were among many bodies that opposed the development of the area.
It was refused planning permission in November 2017.
The new proposal to sell-off the site to the highest bidder has concerned Holgate ward councillors Kallum Taylor, Jenny Kent and Lucy Steels-Walshaw.
Writing on the Friends of Severus Hill Facebook page, Cllr Taylor said they were “very much aware of residents’ concerns, and earlier campaigns, about protecting this environmentally valuable land – and still we share them.
“With this in mind, we are after meeting with the right people at Yorkshire Water (the land owner) to discuss this, and the available alternative possibilities outside of just selling it off.”
The potential for the site to become a nature reserve, run by the likes of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust or St Nicks, has already been discussed.
Cllr Taylor said councillors would welcome residents’ ideas for helping to make it a community asset – you can email him on [email protected].