WORRIED residents have clashed with a housing association carrying out groundwork on the site for a controversial care complex awaiting a public inquiry decision.

Campaigners in Bedale who have battled to stop Broadacres and North Yorkshire County Council building a £12.5m care complex on a site at the rear of Queen Anne’s Drive have protested after diggers and workers moved in to “carry out maintenance”.

Broadacres insist it is carrying out the work as a “responsible landowner to ensure the area remains safe, secure and attractive for the local community”.

The housing association added: “This is being carried out ahead of the start of the nesting season and an ecologist will be in attendance to ensure the protection of wildlife, flora and fauna.”

Residents are furious, claiming the wildlife will be scared away and fear the outcome of the public enquiry is being pre-empted.

“The sound is heart wrenching hearing the chainsaws and what I presume is a wood chipper,” said Anne Hare

“They think themselves invincible. This is a beautiful bit of land with so much wildlife, it should be used as a community garden or somewhere the children of Queen Anne’s can play.

"The land behind 25 and 27 was meant to have had a park put on it years ago when the estate was built, I believe, but that’s never happened.

“Our concern is definitely that they’ll ruin habitats, which may not recover if and when the care complex is refused.”

Planning permission for the complex, which objectors claim is too big and in the wrong place on a site with many existing highway issues, has been refused by Hambleton District Council.

An online public enquiry was held at the end of last year and a decision is awaited.

Fellow campaigner Rebecca Lyons has written to Broadacres to protest.

She said: “We have listened to the sound of large industrial-size vehicles demolishing the field to the rear of Queen Anne’s Drive.

"We have not heard anything from the inspectors yet. It does appear work has begun.

“I can’t believe that in this day and age the utter lack of respect for wildlife and nature.

"It is a disgrace, quite honestly."