HANDS off our field – that’s the rallying cry from schoolchildren, teachers and residents as they come together to fight a housing developer.
A planning application for 135 homes on a green field off Cranleigh Road, in Portchester, has been submitted to Fareham Borough Council.
The developer behind the plan, Persimmon Homes, says it would bring much-needed housing to the area.
But the application has upset many people in Portchester, including the headteacher of Wicor Primary School, which adjoins the field.
Headteacher Mark Wildman said: ‘We have now reached a tipping point in Portchester.
‘We risk losing those final, remaining, valuable wildlife refuges and open, green spaces that make our part of the world so special.
‘If we destroy any more of these spaces then we destroy the quality of life, not only for the wildlife so dependent on these ecological regions but the quality of life for the local human community too.
‘We need to stop using the word “development” when we mean “destruction”.
‘The time has come for Fareham Borough Council to step up to the plate and start protecting the quality of life for its residents and wildlife.’
Alison Nash, a teacher at Wicor Primary School, called on people to make their objections known to the council before it was too late.
The application is with the council and has already attracted scores of objection letters.
Mrs Nash said: ‘Losing this field will mean the destruction of open space, habitats and protected species in yet another area.
‘Bit by bit small pockets are being picked off by developers who brush away opposition.
‘It is about time these small spaces are seen as vital to keep breathing spaces within today’s creeping urbanisation.’
The developer hopes to build a mix of flats and houses on the 5.5-hectare site.
Persimmon Homes ran a public exhibition last year, at which scores of residents turned up to object.
Steve O’Halloran, land director for Persimmon Homes South Coast said: ‘A planning application has been submitted which includes 54 much-needed affordable homes which will contribute to the local authority’s shortfall in delivering new homes.
‘We will be working with the local authority throughout the application process to deliver a quality scheme.’
Residents have until Friday, April 24 to make comments about the application, before it will be sent to planning committee for a decision, expected to be in June.
Political candidates make opposition to scheme known
THE application for 135 homes has attracted criticism from political candidates too.
The Conservatives’ Fareham parliamentary candidate Suella Fernandes says she opposes the plan, as do the Green Party’s Miles Grindey, the Lib Dems’ Matthew Winnington, Ukip’s Malcolm Jones and Labour’s Stuart Rose.
Mr Rose said: ‘Developers have had their beady eye on this site for many years.
‘This site is part of the green gap between Portchester and Fareham and needs to be protected.’