RESIDENTS have voiced their views on plans to create "80 high-quality" holiday lodges in a caravan park near Romsey.

A planning application was submitted to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to replace 143 touring caravan and camping pitches, including several stored caravans, with "timber-style" lodges at Hill Farm Caravan Park, Sherfield English.

If given the go-ahead, the site will continue to boast 162 car parking spaces and will be accessed from Branches Lane.

According to a document submitted by the applicant, the "80 high-quality timber-style holiday lodges" could help secure the business' future, as well as the Post Office and shop on the site, which has "struggled to remain viable due to the type of touring caravan units or pitches available".

So far, most residents are in favour of the proposals, with some believing it will help support local businesses and improve traffic congestion.

However, one resident objected to the number of lodges put forward, believing there are too many for the site.

Donnamarie Lewis, who lives in Branches Lane, said: "Hill Farm Park is the heart of our village and many of the local residents rely on the services it offers to them.

"The immediate residential population is largely elderly, this section of our neighbourhood not only rely on the facilities for their morning paper or daily supplies.

"It would be a massive loss to the community if some of these services were lost due to financial viability."

She added the lodges could reduce the number of vehicles driving to the site, saying: "Branches Lane is in places quite unsafe for walkers, dog walkers and horse riders alike so any reduction in traffic using the road is positive."

Samantha O'Sullivan, who lives in Salisbury Road, said: "At this extraordinary time, when the rural economy is under so much pressure, surely refusing this application could possibly undermine the viability of the very services we rely on and most of the local community would like to protect."

Lynn Breckenridge, who lives in Branches Lane, highlighted the plans could help businesses, particularly the "local pub which is important to the village at a time when many pubs are closing or finding it hard to" stay afloat.

She added: "There could be a benefit from less large vehicles (caravans and motorhomes) on the small lane.

"If this application was considered alongside the possibility of reducing the speed limit from 60mph along Branches Lane and North Common, I believe it would considerably improve the safety for drivers and those of us walking to Hill Farm."

However, Michael Arnison-Newgass, who lives in Sherfield English, objected to the plans believing it is too large, suggesting a maximum of "20 chalet bungalows" should be allowed on the site.

He also claimed the scale of the development would mean nearby roads would need to be improved, stating there isn't enough "room for vehicles to pass easily either in Branches Lane between Pound Farm and the crossroads on the A27 to the south".

As reported, the applicant explained the caravan site operates on a "very limited season" and the business, including the shop and post office, has "struggled to remain viable due to the type of touring caravan units or pitches available".

They added: "In recent years, there has been a move towards a longer holiday season, with visitors wanting to stay in holiday destinations outside the period March to October.

"If this business is to extend its season, it needs to provide accommodation that can be used for a greater proportion of the year."

TVBC is due to decide on the plans on Monday, January 4 2021.