Portchester church could go to make way for homes

NO FUTURE? Catholic Church of our Lady of Walsingham in White Hart Lane, Portchester.  ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121371-2)
NO FUTURE? Catholic Church of our Lady of Walsingham in White Hart Lane, Portchester. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121371-2)
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A CHURCH which had to be closed because of major structural problems looks set to be demolished and replaced by houses.

Our Lady of Walsingham in White Hart Lane, Portchester, has lain empty since 2010 when the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth took the decision that repairs would be too expensive.

An application has now been made to Fareham Borough Council by the diocese for the church to be torn down and five two-bed and two three-bed houses to be put on the site instead.

Parish deacon Langford Vincent said: ‘People from the diocese came to look at the church building and told us it couldn’t be used any more.

‘It is sad, but one has to face the reality of what it would have cost to repair.

‘The only sensible thing to do was to close it.’

But several people living nearby have written to the council raising concerns about the removal of mature trees and the impact it could have on wildlife in the area.

Some residents of neighbouring York Gardens are also worried about a loss of privacy, as they say some of the new buildings will be too close to their homes.

Neil Duffin, chairman of the Third Portchester Scouts, described the group, which has been based next door at Cobham Hall since 1977 as ‘thriving and active,’ and said: ‘It’s important that both the planning committee and developer are made aware that the hall is available 24/7 for Scout use and of the potential noise that this can generate for housing so close to the boundary.

‘We don’t expect the Scout group to be penalised in any way over our usage of the facility.’

Hazel Woodman of the Portchester Civic Society said: ‘We are generally in favour of this development.

‘We appreciate it’s not in the conservation area, but we do believe the site should keep its green and natural look as far as possible.’

She added that the society is worried about the effect it could have on traffic.

‘This area must be investigated by highways with a view to allowing traffic and making it safer before this development is allowed to proceed,’ she said.

No date has been set for the application to be heard by the council.