A councillor has been accused of being a “garden grabber” after a controversial application to build a house in her Bexleyheath back garden was approved.

Residents living near Erith Councillor Margaret O’Neill protested to News Shopper in January that the proposed building at the back of Garden Avenue will block out sunlight and damage wildlife.

But the application by council planning committee member Cllr O’Neill was recommended by planning officers and approved by councillors at a meeting last night.

Garden Avenue resident Tony Evan, 52, told News Shopper: “What we have got is a garden grabbing councillor. It just stinks.

“They didn’t tell us about it in time. By the time we got the letter we didn’t have any time to react.”

Mr Evan started a petition against the plans for a two-bedroom, two-storey, detached house with parking space fronting Palmar Road, gaining more than 50 signatures.

But the planning committee voted unanimously to approve the development with Cllr O’Neill required to absent herself from the council chamber at the Bexleyheath Civic Centre while the decision was made.

Mr Evan, a former prison officer, was joined by more than 10 other residents at the meeting, all of whom supported his charge the development would “decimate” the hedge sparrow population by removing two holly trees.

Pamela Bradley, 71, lives in Palmar Road. She said: “According to the RSPB their numbers have reduced by 50 per cent.

“They are an endangered species so by cutting down those trees you are damaging them even further.”

Mr Evan, who has lived in Garden Avenue for eight years, added: “At least it has brought us together.

“I never used to speak to anyone on Palmar Road so I suppose she has done one thing for the community.”

Cllr O’Neill said: “I am very pleased the integrity of the planning system was upheld” but did not wish to make any further comment.

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