Neighbours set to fight to save Hayling Island land from developers

Donna Jones and Roy Perry Pictures: The News

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CAMPAIGNERS say they will fight to stop development on a controversial wildlife haven.

There are fears part of 10-acre Stoke Common, in Hayling, could be built on after Kevin Field, the agent who bought it on behalf of a company in the north east of England, suggested a small development was not out of the question.

Hayling residents joined Hampshire County Council in an attempt to buy the wildlife haven and declare it community land to save it from development when it was put up for sale in April 2010.

It was owned by the Portsmouth Deaf Association and Home of Comfort charitable nursing home which were bequeathed it many years ago.

In the end Mr Field’s £120,000 bid won out and he has now said he doesn’t think it would be unreasonable to build on the site considering the demand for housing.

He said: ‘Nothing has been decided. There is just a thought that there might at some stage be housing but we have not decided anything.

‘If we did decide to go for planning permission it would only be a very small unwooded area of the woods.

‘As I have said before, the woods will always be the woods. We have no designs on that at all.’

Mr Field has suggested a small two-and-a-half acre site could be built on with the remaining land perhaps being handed back to the community.

But Paul Fisher, chairman of the Hayling Island Residents’ Association, is furious.

He led the campaign to stop the land falling into the hands of developers but was outbid despite generous donations from the community.

‘I completely object to any houses on Stoke Common,’ said Mr Fisher.

‘We did not do our campaign to raise money and work with Hampshire County Council only to be thwarted.

‘We did it so that Stoke Common as a whole can be preserved for the benefit of the island as an undeveloped piece of woodland.’

A recent survey by Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre found it is home to the threatened song thrush.

Other species include the sparrowhawk, jay, goldfinch, greenfinch and robin. It is also a habitat for red foxes and squirrels.

Copies of the report have been sent to Mr Field, Havant Borough Council, Natural England and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.