A PLANNING inspector has given the green light to a new vicarage in Lee-on-the-Solent after they were first refused by the council.
The decision over a new vicarage and three houses in Victoria Square next to St Faith’s Church has been met with anger by residents who fought them.
Martin Marks, chairman of Lee Residents, said: ‘I personally feel that it’s out of character. There a still a lot of very angry people in Victoria Square.
‘We’re very sad that it has been overturned. It’s going to completely spoil it.
‘It’s going to turn it into a housing estate. It’s a beautiful place – or it was.
‘We’re also very annoyed about the way it’s been done.’
Gosport Borough Council planning officers rejected the Diocese of Portsmouth’s plans to build the homes in February last year.
Their report said allowing the homes would create an ‘alien pattern of development... at odds with the setting of the church’.
Four people had supported the original plans, with 18 against, while nine were against the plans when they were modified before they were refused.
But inspector Megan Thomas’s report said: ‘The proposed scheme would not harm the setting of the listed church or the character of appearance of the townscape.’
She added: ‘I do not agree with the council that the setting of St Faith’s is reliant on the original square.’
As reported in The News, the church wanted to build a new vicarage after the old one suffered extensive damp.
It will be the first vicarage to be built by the diocese for around 10 years.
The diocese said that it cannot afford to build a vicarage without involving a developer. It said any cash it receives will go to clergy pay and repairs for older vicarages in the area.
The Archdeacon of the Meon, the Ven Gavin Collins, said: ‘We are pleased that the planning inspector’s decision enables us now to provide a good base for the home and ministry of the current vicar and future vicars.
‘We know that the people of Lee-on-Solent will benefit from the fact that their vicar will be based within that community.’
Councillor Lynn Hook, chairwoman of the regulatory board, said an inspector overturning the officer’s decision will not set a precedent in the area.
Developer contributions worth £7,737 will be split between the rugby/cricket pavilion or a replacement pavilion at Privett Park, and towards the Alver Valley Country Park.