IT was a victory for people power that saved the rural charm of a village for generations to come.
Neighbours rallied round – many dipping into their own pockets to pay for lawyers – to successfully ward off an appeal to build a large garden centre at the gateway to Rowlands Castle.
Residents today spoke of their delight after the plans to move Keydell Nurseries from Horndean to Rowlands Castle were rejected following a public inquiry.
The Strange family, who own the nursery, appealed to the government after East Hampshire District Council twice refused the application – the first time stopping the bid by just one vote.
The main concern was the development at Mays Coppice Farm, Whichers Gate Road, causing traffic congestion and harming the idyllic landscape.
Rowlands Castle Parish Council set up a ‘fighting fund’ when the appeal was launched and received £5,500 from 40 separate contributions.
The three-day public inquiry was held in the village’s church hall.
Parish council chairman John Pickering said: ‘It was a strong team effort involving our lawyers, external witnesses and much hard work by some of our councillors and the clerk.
‘Gratitude is due to all those who supported the council by attending the inquiry and/or contributing generously to our “fighting fund”, without which the burden on our council finances would have been much greater.’
Marge Harvey, the long-serving district councillor, said: ‘It’s a really great outcome for the village.
‘It just reminds people that Rowlands Castle is a small village and is rural.
‘The inspector said that Keydell belonged in a more urban area and we are not that.’
John Adams, 73, who lives near Mays Coppice Farm, said: ‘We were all concerned with what the development would do to the village and how it would affect the traffic.
‘It’s a massive relief.’
George Hollingbery, Meon Valley MP, said: ‘This development was not wanted by the local community and was opposed vociferously by many.
‘I felt Keydell had not paid sufficient care to the impact of the building on the surrounding countryside and the traffic problems which undoubtedly would have followed.’
Neither the Strange family or their agents were available for comment yesterday.