A historic lane which is home to a rare butterfly will be replanted following “heavy-handed” works which saw trees and shrubs torn up to widen the footway.
Norfolk County Council ordered vegetation to be removed last week from either side of Green Lane, Thetford, following complaints about litter and antisocial behaviour.
But residents and conservationists were appalled at the scale of the clearance which affected the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly as well as numerous birds and other wildlife.
After complaints the council now says no more clearance will take place, adding it had previously been unaware of wildlife at the site.
A spokesman added: “Our ecologists are discussing how we can enhance the site to boost wildlife. This is likely to include replanting and a plan of how we can manage the site to protect it.”
Sue Stanford, 66, whose home looks on to Green Lane, and who was instrumental in halting the works, said: “I was just so upset. They were absolutely devastating it. A friend knew it was home to the White-Letter Hairstreak and so the amount of clearing they’ve done seemed completely unnecessary. I’ve also seen 15 different types of bird since we moved in 12 weeks ago.
“We need green spaces but outside our house it looks like a bit of the Somme. I’m delighted with what they’re going to do now but I wish this hadn’t happened in the first place. It was wanton destruction.”
The rare White-Letter Hairstreak butterfly can be elusive, as it lives in treetops and only survives for a few weeks each year.
Sharon Hearle, eastern region officer for Butterfly Conservation, who visited the site, confirmed the butterfly was living on Green Lane, adding: “Primarily we were concerned the clearance going on was a bit heavy-handed. It could have been done in a more sympathetic way.
“I think it’s fair to say there were dead elm trees which may have been a hazard so something would have had to have been done about them but I think the biggest problem is that all the bramble was taken out, which is what the butterflies use for their nectar.
“That particular butterfly only flies for a few weeks and needs particular plants such as bramble or thistle for nectar and elm trees to lay its eggs on. Obviously, though, the butterfly isn’t the only wildlife down there and the cover for birds and removal of food is also an issue.”
Norfolk county councillor for Thetford East, Marion Chapman-Allen, requested the work stop when she was contacted by Mrs Stanford.
She said: “I’m delighted a strategy will be worked up to make it a wildlife site to be maintained in future which will improve it no-end.
“It was shock horror all around when we found out about it and I’m so grateful this resident got in touch with me.
“I wish it hadn’t happened but now everybody at county is on board and working together and come the New Year and spring it will be a time to see things growing again.”