PROTESTERS marched through the streets of Havant to demand that a council reviews its housing targets for Hayling Island.
Shouting ‘Save Hayling’, the campaigners marched from Havant bus station to the council’s new Public Service Plaza to present a petition with 4,500 names.
The protesters carried placards with concerns they have for the island, including ‘Jewel in the crown destroyed’, ‘gridlock’ and ‘no more estates’.
It comes as Havant Borough Council has allocated 597 new homes for Hayling in its Core Strategy - a planning blueprint for the next two decades that has been approved by the government.
Many residents feel that overdevelopment would put too much strain on the island’s infrastructure, particularly the bridge, Havant Road, drains and the health centre.
The petition, presented to Councillor David Guest, the council’s deputy leader, called for a ‘comprehensive review’ of the island’s infrastructure and the housing plans.
Paul Fisher, chairman of Hayling Island Residents’ Association, said: ‘The key issue is the roads. The roads are over capacity and that’s the problem.
‘The council has its head in the sand.
‘They are not accepting the reality of the fact that Hayling is an island with unique infrastructure problems it is not addressing.’
Mark Holloran, 55, of Palmerston Road, Hayling, said: ‘The council promotes Hayling Island as a holiday destination.
‘What we don’t want it to become is a built-up metropolis.
‘They can’t have both.’
Jan Castle, who has lived on the island for 30 years, said: ‘Whenever there’s an obstruction getting off the island, you can’t get to an appointment or to catch a train.’
Cllr Guest said the Core Strategy had been subject to public consultation and more homes were needed for the younger generation otherwise the island could stagnate and services would be lost.
Hayling Cllr John Smith said infrastructure was constantly being reviewed by the council.
He said: ‘It’s right to say that these issues are of concern, but can be addressed and mitigated. Do residents really think that by stopping development, the island would be saved? The reality is that many young families would be forced to leave, schools, shops and services would come under threat.
‘The effect would be for the island to become a kind of social museum and literally die on its feet.
‘Along with other towns and villages in the country we need to come to terms with the prospect of increased, but necessary development and view this as an opportunity.’
He said that any large-scale development would mean developers would have to agree to invest in new facilities and services such as a new doctor’s surgery.
He added: ‘I suggest we work together to prove the doomsayers wrong - if we act positively Hayling will have a bright future and necessary development.’
The petition is now being considered by council leaders and may lead to a more detailed debate in the council chamber.