PLANNING chiefs have agreed permission for fencing in an area of the South Downs National Park despite objections that it would create the effect of a “patchwork quilt”.

Winchester city councillors agreed the retrospective application by Danny Bower, for a field at West Street in Soberton, for 130m of wooden posts and wire fencing.

The application had been handed over by South Downs National Park after 21 letters of objections arguing the fencing was detrimental to the landscape and in direct violation of trust's preservation policies.

Speaking against the application was Cllr Caroline Dibden who said the fencing created the “patchwork quilt” effect on the land.

She said: “There were letters of support but none of them live in the immediate area. The wide field is a misnomer; it's Church Meadow - it is an open area not a divided area of plots. This is within the national park which is protected by a planning constraints to preserve and upkeep the beauty of the area.

“It's of critical importance to conserve this open area.”

As well as citing concerns with the use of land, councillors raised issue with the type of fencing and said it could possibly do harm to the grazing horses.

Cllr Michael Read said: “Having experienced this use of land some 20-30 years ago, at a separate location, I was one of the first people to ask for an Article 4 to stop this thing from happening. It's an area that has been broken up for whatever use and it's of some concern to the locals I'm sure. How many more times can this be sub-divided?

“In this instance the horses cannot see the fence and may bounce into it; I've seen this happen once before.”

Cllr Frank Pearson said: “I'm caught between the devil and the deep quite frankly. As far as visual intention is concerned I really cannot see this in reality. It's what you can see in the flesh, so to speak, and they are visible.”

However councillors were told that if they refused permission the applicant would be entitled to claim compensation for an unknown amount in costs.

Six councillors voted in favour while three voted against and one - the chairman - abstained.