'˜No hope for wildlife' - Residents' anger despite controversial housing plans refused

TOO little, too late.

Wednesday, 28th March 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th March 2018, 11:00 am
Residents from Portchester have marched in protest to Fareham Council Offices to voice their objections to a proposal to build more homes in the Portchester/Fareham area

That is how residents in Portchester feel after a controversial planning application was refused by Fareham Borough Council last week – but owners had already cleared the site.

Resident Kirsten Wiltshire said: ‘The site has been completely decimated and although I was completely elated and surprised that the application was refused, it is all a bit late for the animals that were nesting there.’

The application for 49 homes at land to the west of Seafield Road and Moraunt Drive has made for a long running dispute between residents and the owners of the site, the Churchlands Trust and Danisco.

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Kirsten added: ‘It feels like a small victory in a rather large war against housing.’

In 2016, locals used their cars to block wood chopping machinery gaining access to the site and described the clearing of the former allotment site as ‘wildlife vandalism’.

Ward councillor Shaun Cunningham has been against the plans since the site was first earmarked for clearance.

Cllr Cunningham said: ‘I am absolutely livid the way the site has been left and although the application has been refused, the trees have been reduced to a pile of wood chippings and there is no hope for any wildlife.’

Common lizards and badgers were among the species of animal residents previously said to be living on the site.

Wildlife conservationist and Portchester resident, Mel Hefford, said: ‘I have found it all very distressing and I don’t think the owners have really taken into account the wildlife that live here and now their habitats are ruined.

‘I was very surprised that the application was refused as everything did seem to indicate it was going to go through but it is perhaps worse that this site has been cleared for no reason.’

Tony Fuller, one of the church wardens for the Churchlands Trust explained the site will be left to grow.

Tony said: ‘The site was orginally pasture land and so now it is clear if all the planning permission is finished with then it will go back to being pasture land.’

In regards to concerns of residents, Tony said: ‘Just because it has been cleared does not mean nothing will grow there.’