Wildlife enthusiasts are outraged at the destruction of a conservation area by developers.

When the wildlife garden, in Fiskerton, was opened by Dr David Bellamy in 1999 it had a pond, apple trees and wildlife ranging from newts to owls and migrating birds.

Now, residents say undergrowth has been cleared, the pond filled in and owl boxes destroyed.

The site is owned by Bailgate-based JG Homes, which made an application for planning permission to build 22 new homes on the site in July.

It was refused by West Lindsey District Council, partly because of the importance of the wildlife habitat.

But the developers have gone ahead and cleared much of the land.

Andrew Cooke (38), of High Street, Fiskerton, said: “It is disgraceful what they have done, it was such a beautiful place that all the residents really enjoyed. There was a lot of wildlife in that area and they have completely destroyed their habitat.”

When the district council refused the application, officers placed Tree Preservation Orders on 15 of the site’s mature trees, which have not been touched.

Commenting on the application, the report to the council said: “The undeveloped, vegetated and treed site forms an important informal open space which is of significant amenity value.”

Head of planning at West Lindsey George Martin said that the developers had done nothing wrong.

“We received several complaints from residents that the site was being damaged and we investigated,” he said.

“We found that the landowner had been clearing away the undergrowth, but none of the trees with Tree Preservation Orders had been touched.

“As the trees haven’t been touched there is nothing that we can do, although we will be monitoring the work to make sure the trees are not harmed.

“Planning permission was refused on a variety of reasons, including being out of character for the area.

“The fact that the area does not look as attractive as before shouldn’t make any difference to future planning applications.”

Mr Cooke said that residents were worried about the plans for houses being resubmitted.

He said: “We are all worried that as the site has already been destroyed, it will go through.”

West Lindsey sold the site to developer JG Homes for £500,000, and the site was already overgrown when it was sold.

A spokesman for JG Homes refused to comment on the residents’ concerns.