‘Our involvement has been well and truly vindicated’

DELIGHTED Celebrations in Rowlands Castle after the fight was won to stop a garden centre being built near the village
DELIGHTED Celebrations in Rowlands Castle after the fight was won to stop a garden centre being built near the village
Clipper Round the World Race crew member Simon Speirs who has died after being swept overboard during the round-the-world yacht race

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ROWLANDS Castle Parish Council thought carefully before deciding to support East Hampshire District Council in opposing the Keydell appeal to move its garden centre from Horndean to the countryside south of Rowlands Castle village.

The successful outcome – the appeal was dismissed – made it all worthwhile.

Two expert witnesses aided our work without charge: Dr Lee Woods from the University of Portsmouth on highway matters, and Sue Montila on behalf of local bridleway users.

We agreed we needed formal legal representation to advance our arguments in the most effective way. We knew this would cost money, however we were able to negotiate favourable terms.

The specialist solicitor and barrister we appointed worked well together, and with the council members and witnesses. We opened a ‘fighting fund’, which will cover around half the costs we will have incurred in fighting this matter. This has come from some 40 different contributors, to whom we are extremely grateful.

Their generosity is a sign of the strong opposition in Rowlands Castle to Keydell’s proposals. This was reflected in the large public attendance at each day of the inquiry. The fund is open for further contributions!

The inspector’s report and decision was delivered in good time. With admirable clarity, he found that the proposed relocation would have impacts on the landscape and on highway safety.

So the parish council’s involvement was truly vindicated. We did make a difference. We believe the land at Mays Coppice Farm should now be left for appropriate agricultural use, with the environmental and ecological benefits that will offer.