PLANS to build three houses next to a church near Romsey have come under fire from residents over fears congestion could increase in the lane.

An application was submitted to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to construct the four bedroom houses west of All Saints Church in Church Lane, Awbridge.

If approved, the church would be able to create a car park with 54 spaces and extend their graveyard, giving them a total of "100 spaces" burials.

Critics of the controversial application claimed the development would concrete over land that "supports wildlife", while others believed the plans are not supported "by the community", despite being branded as a "community-led scheme".

Jo Lees, who lives in Saunders Lane, Awbridge, said: "This is not necessary housing and the proposal for 54 car parking spaces (increased from 10) is a worry.

"Church Lane is a single track lane with no capacity for increased traffic.

"The only occasion when traffic may increase to the church would be christenings, marriages and funerals, all of which have been managed very well without the need for 54 car parking spaces on agricultural land."

She added: "I am also very concerned about the unnecessary encroachment onto greenfield land that supports wildlife and horticulture."

Manuel Caballero, who lives in Church Lane, said: "The proposal that the development would increase the community usage of the church is frivolous as Awbridge already has a modern, vibrant village hall a walkable distance away with good parking facilities."

He added the development is "a significant and unnecessary" change to the land, while criticising the "minimal" community consultation for the plans.

"There was a consultation to which I replied and objected to. Now I hear there is 'complete community support' for the proposal."

Gregory Hine, who lives in Church Lane, objected to the plans claiming he had "not been invited to contribute to any community consultation", despite living "opposite the proposed development".

He said if the application is approved it could set a precedent for future developments, worrying this would create a "residential street in place of a country lane".

As reported, Cllr Nick Adams-King, who represents Blackwater on the borough council, backed the "community-led scheme", believing the church would be able to hold big events without residents having to park on a "narrow lane" nearby.

He told the Advertiser when "there is a big event at the church the cars have to park on Church Lane, which is narrow".

The applicant and one of the wardens for All Saints Church, Fred Tucker, said: "It is a long-standing problem and if we get planning permission for the three houses we can provide ourselves with a car park and have a community garden where people can sit in - at no cost to the church."

TVBC are due to decide on the plans on Friday, August 28.