Historic convent set be turned into new apartments

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PERMISSION has been granted to convert a former convent into apartments.

Grade II listed St Michael’s Convent, which is 120 years old, will be turned into 17 flats. Sixty-five homes will be built in the grounds, off London Road, Waterlooville.

The go-ahead was given at Havant Borough Council’s development management committee where people living close to the site pleaded with councillors not to permit it.

John Yates, of Hermitage Gardens, said: ‘I don’t see any need for this. I don’t think these properties are actually needed, it’s a bit of land grabbing.’

He raised fears that flooding in gardens in the area could get worse if more houses are built.

Peter Holloway, whose property currently has undisturbed views overlooking the convent and an orchard, is also unhappy with the number of parking spaces –just under two per household.

He said: ‘The proposed parking for new dwellings is grossly inadequate.’

He said there is an abundance of wildlife in the grounds, including deer, which might be lost. He added that the 65 new homes at the end of his garden would make it feel as if he were ‘stuck in a goldfish bowl.’

The land is being sold off by the Catholic church who spent £2.6m on the new Sacred Heart Church last year, just a few hundreds yards away.

The old church will be retained and has been earmarked for community use such as a doctors’ surgery, museum or crèche.

John O’Donovan, from Linden Homes, said: ‘The imperative was to maintain the architectural and historical interest. Sensitive conversion of the convent to apartments will enhance this listed building.’

And the committee agreed. It unanimously approved both the convent conversion and the 65 new homes.

Councillor Elaine Shimbart said: ‘This is a good use of the site. It is designed with regards to the listed building and there is a fair amount of open space.’

The eastern edge of the site will have a new access road from Hulbert Road, while the rest of the site will be accessed via London Road.

Permission was granted to demolish convent extensions made in the 1930s and 1960s.