Planning inspectors have started their inquiry into a proposed housing development on a green space.
Homes England applied for permission to build 260 homes on Brislington Meadows in Bristol back in April 2022.
Bristol City Council missed a deadline to decide on the plans so Homes England lodged an appeal to the planning inspectorate in September last year.
The council decided it would have rejected the plans but the decision had already gone to the appeal stage.
Homes England - the government's land and property agency - spent approximately £15m buying the site in March 2020 and has planned for 30% of the homes to be affordable.
Residents left almost 600 objections to the plans based on environment concerns.
'Eco system collapse'
The site is popular with dog walkers and wildlife experts say it is home to a variety of important animal species including bats, birds of prey, slow worms, as well as ancient trees.
Labour councillor Tim Rippington said: "By Homes England's own admission we'll lose some 24% of habitat in this area when they build.
"The UK has lost 50% of it habitat since the industrial revolution and if that continues, it doesn't matter how many houses we have, our eco system will collapse and we'll be in real trouble."
Ian Barrett, chief executive of Avon Wildlife Trust, said: "The site is really special for grass and species, its got a lot of carbon species there.
"If you're looking at hierarchy it's not the most special site in the country but we're losing sites where all our wildlife is everywhere and the first thing we need to do is to stop destroying the habitats we've got left.
"The inquiry starts today and it's always difficult at this stage. As the wildlife trust we try to engage right at the beginning of the strategic planning process when things are first being zoned."
Mr Barrett added: "You've got really engaged residents who understand the value of that site and the value of nature."
The inquiry launched Tuesday and is expected to last 11 days and is taking place at City Hall.
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