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'Wrong houses, wrong place': Protesters gather to object to 45 homes on greenfield in Ashford Hill

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“It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Those were the words from one Ashford Hill resident as around 50 concerned villagers turned out with placards to protest against 45 homes being built in the village.

“Keep Ashford Hill rural”, “no to houses here” and “wrong houses, wrong place” were just some of the signs on display, as residents voiced their frustration at the proposals – two years on from the completion of the 35-home Oakfield Lane development at the junction of the B3051 and Ashford Hill Road.

Protestors gather outside the field where 45 houses are proposed.
Protestors gather outside the field where 45 houses are proposed.

Planning permission for 27 homes on the adjacent site was also approved by the planning inspectorate in August this year after being turned down by the borough council.

Three months on, Ashford Hill residents have come out in force to object to a further 45 homes in the village, saying it “fundamentally changes the character, safety, environmental qualities and peace of the village forever”.

Resident Melissa Tayabali said: “This is quite a dangerous road [the B3051] and it’s getting more and more traffic.

“You can’t just walk down here, or bike really.

“From a safety perspective, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

“From an environmental perspective, all the land slopes to where the brook is. It needs one leakage and that is completely impacted.”

The proposed plan for the site in Ashford Hill.
The proposed plan for the site in Ashford Hill.

The land is owned by absentee landlords Michael and Rosemary Pelham, who live in Oxfordshire, and is used for agriculture.

It is also bordered to the east by woodland which is part of the Ashford Hill National Nature Reserve.

Resident Patrick Taylor said: “To sum it up, we’re all just fed up of having more housing dumped on us.

“We’re a small village – we’ve already had 62 houses approved to add to this village, which is over 50 per cent of the current size of the village, and there are no facilities.

“There’s no shop, we don’t have any buses, the school is full.

“There’s also the fact that those trees are in a national nature reserve.

“This field drains out that way and if there’s ever a fault with the sewage system they put in – because there’s no mains drainage – the effluent will go down into the national nature reserve.

“So we’re endangering the biodiversity of a major area of natural habitat. And that’s wrong.”

The protest was also attended by the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council leader and Ashford Hill resident Ken Rhatigan, who said: “Greenfield development cannot be done without infrastructure first, and there’s no infrastructure being delivered.”

A planning statement prepared by applicant JPP Land states: “It is acknowledged that some harm will arise to the loss of this greenfield site to a residential development.

“However, the degree of harm is reduced having regard to the limited (localised) effect of the scheme on the character and appearance of the wider countryside.

“The harm is also reduced owing to the high-quality nature of the proposed development and its compliance with the character, pattern and grain of development associated with Ashford Hill.”

The application will now go to the borough council’s development control committee for consideration.

To view the application, head to the council’s planning portal and enter the reference 21/02696/OUT.

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