ANGRY Highcliffe residents have rubbished claims by a developer that plans for 54 new homes in the centre of the village will help regenerate it.
Last week the A&T revealed how Brentland Ltd was seeking approval to build 18 luxury bungalows and 36 flats on land that was once earmarked for a relief road.
The site, which is south of Jesmond Avenue and north of the medical centre off the A337, is currently covered by trees and dense undergrowth.
Brentland Ltd director Chris Bulstrode said that residents living opposite the site should be pleased because the “threat of having a very busy road in front of them” had been ”lifted”.
He also said the new houses and flats would bring “much needed new housing” to Highcliffe the residents of which would “spending money in the shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants helping to regenerate the village”.
But furious Highcliffe resident Richard Dickinson responded: “I was astounded with the arrogance of Mr Bulstrode’s comments.
“He is of the view that it is in the interests of Highcliffe residents and especially those in Jesmond Avenue to destroy a small wooded area, replacing it with a combination of 54 homes. How can he honestly think that is in anyone’s interest but his own?
“This is a very small plot of land that acts as an important wildlife habitat and natural break in the road noise for residents.
“He is trying to convince people that this is going to be of benefit to Highcliffe – it is not. His firm are profiteering at the expense of Highcliffe and destroying what little natural green area is left.
“The proposed development of 18 bungalows and 36 flats is a massive overdevelopment, which will result in at least 100 cars needing somewhere to park and we know that will not provide anywhere near that amount.
“The result will be that Jesmond Avenue and the surrounding roads will be used by these residents to park. This road is already used by workers and shoppers during the day so will exacerbate the problem.”
The land earmarked for the development had been compulsorily purchased by Hampshire County Council in the 1960s from then owners Boyland and Son Ltd, to construct a spur road to bypass the village.
But the road was never built and in 2015 the land was bought by Brentland Ltd – one of the directors of which is the grandson of Peter Boyland who originally owned the land.
The company has now put in an outline planning application to build 18 bungalows, with garage and parking spaces, along with two blocks of two to three-storey flats.
One block is for private rental the other is for shared ownership and affordable housing. Each flat will have a designated parking space.
The whole site will be landscaped with trees and hedges and there will also be a seven-metre wide “green corridor” running along the site north of Lymington Road to protect wildlife habitats.
Mr Bulstrode said the site will be “very much in keeping” with the area and residents of Jesmond Avenue will still be able to look out on a line of trees.
But Mr Dickinson said: “I appreciate that this land was earmarked for development in the 1950s and 1960s. However, since then Highcliffe has grown in population and other big building projects have happened which mean that these residential properties are not needed and certainly not in that density.
“All these factors are being ignored by the profit seeking Mr Bulstrode as is the increased flood risk and the impact on the local doctors and schools.
“I hope the newly formed BCP Council do not cave in and the residents of Highcliffe continue their objections to these ill thought out and in considerate plans.”
Another resident, Luke Ferguson, also damned the new plans saying: “I grew up in Highcliffe and currently live about 1.5 miles from the proposed development site.
“I would say that the relief road was proposed at a time when the need to protect the natural environment was not a global priority or understood. The green corridor would be drastically reduced from what it currently is and would not be replaced – a few token trees is not comparable.
“There have been a huge number of developments recently including Hoburne farm, Lymington road and Cobbs for example, many of which contain unsold properties proving that there is not the demand from the local area. Developing this type of land is simply not sustainable and it would be irresponsible for the council to approve it.”
Mr Bulstrode responded: “When our company purchased this building land in 1954 and sold it to Hampshire County Council under compulsory purchase for a relief road there were few mature trees. The ones that were, will remain”.
He said that the fact that until his company recently started clearing the site there was dense undergrowth meant that it could not have been used by people to walk on.
He said: “It was impassable in most areas. It cannot be claimed by people that they have been using it as a common as it was simply impossible to do as it was so overgrown. No one has been maintaining it for the past 50 years.”
He added: “Chewton Common is within 500 yards and the New Forest negates the argument that this building land, zoned for sustainable development by BCP, all of a sudden has become protected woodland.”