Ed Sheeran commissions nature survey amid battle to build private chapel

Ed Sheeran has commissioned experts to search for newts around the estate where he's hoping to build a private chapel.

The Shape of You star, who is engaged to Cherry Seaborn, submitted a planning application to build his own Saxon-style flint structure on his estate in East Anglia, England, to Suffolk Coastal District Council earlier this year under the name of Cherry's architect father Matthew, amid rumours the couple is hoping to get married there.

The application was put on hold after it was met with a string of concerns, including from officials at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, who said there was a record number of great crested newts in the area in 2015 and it is possible ponds within the estate boundaries "could be breeding sites for this species". It is illegal to disturb the protected amphibians or obstruct areas where they live and breed.

In response to this complaint, the 27-year-old has been forced to commission experts to hunt for the creatures around his estate.

"The applicant has responded promptly to this matter and has also commissioned an appropriate survey that will identify the presence of great crested newts or otherwise, propose mitigation measures as appropriate and recommend measures to enhance biodiversity," said Paul Smith, of Apex Planning Consultants, according to Press Association.

"We were not aware of the historical presence of great crested newts nearby and certainly believe that none exist in the pond nearby to the application site," he added.

He also addressed concerns from locals claiming the chapel would be unsightly, saying these opinions were not based on facts and "discredit the high-quality architecture", and disagreed that it would attract attention from the public and press, adding the proposed site would be around 230 metres (754 feet) from the road.

It is not unclear when a decision will be made on the application.

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