CAMPAIGNERS have scored a victory after plans to fence off a huge chunk of open land around St James’ Hospital were thrown out.
The government’s Homes & Communities Agency submitted a bid to put 2m-high fencing in the south-east section of the site – a plot it owns.
The plan was to section off the land, near a number of buildings including a chapel, to protect it until the HCA draws up plans to redevelop the wider site in 2017.
But Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee thought the fencing would have enclosed too much open land and would do more harm than good to wildlife and to the appearance of historic buildings.
Planning committee member Lib Dem councillor David Fuller said: ‘It’s totally unacceptable. It’s one of the worst things I have ever had to look at on the planning committee. I don’t like it at all.’
The fence would have started on the south-eastern section in Locksway Road, and gone to the Children Development Centre and the Harbour School. Another section would have been on the north western side of The Harbour School, to the eastern side of The Beeches, in between the Beeches and Yew House and in between the Yew House and Fair Oak House.
Tory councillor Steve Hastings said: ‘Who drew the lines and why they are drawn right across green space, rather than just in areas to block off buildings? I do not know.
‘If you want to prevent people getting into buildings, you don’t put fencing all over the place.’
Kim Barrett, of the Keep Milton Green campaign group, added: ‘We’re in the process of trying to secure a right of way for the public at St James’, which has been visited for 20 years. To start fencing off areas that have been enjoyed for many years is wrong.’
There was a dispute over whether the HCA had the right to close off the land to residents as it is a public body – but council officers said the fact it owns the land makes the land private.
The HCA is still waiting for the NHS to come up with a plan and a time schedule to move facilities it owns on the estate to the St Mary’s campus – and only then can work start.