A wildlife and conservation area at the back of the new Sainsbury’s store in Sudbury could be a “deathtrap” for children.
And conservationists are also worried about the financial commitment needed to secure the long-term future of the site, which boasts slow worms, lizards, newts, muntjac deer and rare wildflowers.
Sainsbury’s is due to be open before the end of the year on the former William Armes factory site in Cornard Road, on land originally owned by homes developer Bovis.
Sudbury Town Council agreed to adopt the conservation area when it belonged to Bovis, with the supermarket offering a £10,000 financial contribution towards its upkeep.
But town and Great Cornard parish councillor John Sayers says the future of the site could be in jeopardy as it will cost a lot more than the sum offered to keep it open for educational visits by school children and groups. He has also express concerns about a potentially dangerous boundary drop.
“I do have some very real concerns about the site,” said Mr Sayers. “The boundary to the rear where the conservation area meets the supermarket has a sheer drop which I think is really hazardous. It could be a deathtrap for a child, and the site isn’t secure.
“I am also very concerned about its future because it’s clear the money is not going to be enough to keep it going. I plan to raise this issue at the town council’s next leisure and environment committee.”
George Millins, a conservationist and wildlife expert from Acton, who manages the site on behalf of the council, said he had contacted Sainsbury’s requesting urgent action on the site boundary, which he says “is a health and safety issued posed by the sheer drop to the concrete below”.
He has also urged the supermarket to make the site secure and to complete, as promised, a permanent reptile fence along the west boundary.
His group of volunteers have only been allowed on site in recent months, after work started on building the store earlier this year and he described it as “a sad morning indeed”.
“Our volunteer team carried out an assessment of the conservation area, the first since the loss of much of the prime habitat,” he said.
“The destruction has been immense but we will try to make the best of what remains. The new metal fence is good but only creates a challenge to young people.”
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “We have continued to work with Mr Millins and other members of the community throughout the process and have implemented all the requirements as set out in the planning permission to maintain the wildlife area.
“We are committed to delivering a Sainsbury’s store that the Sudbury community will be proud of and welcome the opportunity to discuss Mr Millins’ concerns further.”