A landowner who may be facing prosecution for tearing up a woodland is asking for the site to be labelled as suitable for housing.
Dave Holloway wants the local district council to issue a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) on the site in Dartmouth, Devon.
Campaigners say the "vibrant" woodland was home to bats and hedgehogs before the destruction in December 2018.
The Forestry Commission is pressing for a charge of illegal tree felling.
Mr Holloway has made three applications for housing on the site, each of which has been rejected by South Hams District Council SHDC).
The latest application, for nine houses on the 1.7 acre (0.7 hectare) site, was rejected in November 2019.
He is now claiming that a planning condition to landscape the site, when neighbouring houses were built in 2001, was never complied with.
And he says that because the council never complained, he should be granted the LDC.
According to campaigners, the LDC would make it easier to get planning permission for the site by taking away objections about the tree felling.
Andy Love, who lives in Seymour Drive, said Mr Holloway's latest attempt at trying to get the land earmarked for development was "ironic".
"We should be planting more trees, not felling them," he said.
'Paid a premium'
"It was a vibrant woodland with dormice and badgers and we suspect that he will find further legal loopholes to get his houses.
"But there's no requirement for housing here and it's outside the local development plan area.
"We're not 'nimbies', but we paid a premium for our house with what we thought was woodland next door.
"Now we can't sell it because of what is going on there."
Mr Holloway, who runs a van rental service in Torbay, declined to comment.
SHDC is expected to decide on the application by the end of March and is inviting comments.
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed it had received a file from the Forestry Commission setting out its case for prosecution.