VILLAGERS are up in arms over plans to station gypsy caravans near a site of nature conservation at Ampfield.

More than 150 residents packed the village hall on Monday to voice their concerns to the parish council’s planning committee.

Romsey MP, Caroline Nokes, was at the debate along with the area’s county councillor, Alan Dowden.

Parish councillors are opposed to Anthony Ward’s proposals for siting caravans for residential use on land opposite the Potter’s Heron Hotel, in Winchester Road.

The application is for a single gypsy pitch and a “utility-day room”.

The parish council says the site is outside the Ampfield settlement boundary and therefore runs contrary to borough planning policy. TVBC has received around 60 objections to the plans via its website.

Mark Sennit, of Knapp Lane, stated: “My concerns are that the proposals for the gypsy pitch are misguided. The site is located within the countryside and in a prominent location outside the settlement boundary of Ampfield, and as such it will be visually intrusive and out of character with the area, which is currently typified by open fields.

“To provide hard surfacing and a building will create an alien and unacceptable form of development in the area.”

Another resident, Nick Warren, who was involved in drawing up Ampfield’s Village Design Statement, commented: “It seems to me that this development would be contrary to the plan and, indeed, the wider borough plan.”

Querying the need for the gypsy site, he added: “These green spaces matter and if we lose them piece by piece, whether to a camp site or a dwelling, they are gone.”

Deputy borough council leader and TVBC’s planning spokesman, Martin Hatley, said he appreciated residents’ concerns about the proposals.

“But at the end of the day, the borough council will have to treat this application on its own merits and will only be allowed to take account of valid material planning considerations, whilst being very mindful of any adverse or otherwise effect it could have on this prominent countryside setting,” said Mr Hatley.

The application is unlikely to be debated by borough councillors until mid-May at the earliest and Ampfield residents have until Tuesday, April 15, to make their views known.