Sleepy Hampshire Villages Unleash Fury Over £308 Million Eco-Housing Project, Labeling It a ‘Concrete Jungle’ Threatening Their Picturesque Landscape

Sleepy Hampshire Villages Unleash Fury Over £308 Million Eco-Housing Project, Labeling It a ‘Concrete Jungle’ Threatening Their Picturesque Landscape

Village Uproar Against Welborne:

Residents of two serene Hampshire villages are vehemently opposing the colossal £308 million Welborne eco-housing project, branding it ‘Hellborne’ for its potential to obliterate their tranquil and rural haven.

The mammoth initiative, in development for 17 years, aims to establish a ‘garden village’ spanning 1,000 acres of open land between Knowle and Wickham, drawing fierce criticism from locals who claim it will transform their natural environment into an unwanted ‘concrete jungle.’

Decades-Long Contention Unleashed:

The Welborne project, initially proposed nearly two decades ago, has triggered a prolonged debate in the area.

Despite obtaining planning permission in 2021, the development, spearheaded by the Buckland Group, faces staunch resistance from villagers who feel ignored.

Mark Thistlethwayte, Chairman of Buckland Group and a local resident, acknowledged his initial opposition, stating, ‘I was a Nimby. When this was announced some 18 years ago, I was absolutely opposed to it.’

Unavoidable Construction:

With construction now underway, residents have come to terms with the realization that the project ‘can’t be stopped.’

For the next thirty years, they anticipate living next to a sprawling building site, a bitter pill to swallow for locals who have continuously voiced objections.

Frustrated sentiments arise as the green space faces destruction, and pleas against it are seemingly disregarded.

Welborne’s Vision and Eco-Friendly Features:

Despite discontent, Mark Thistlethwayte’s vision for Welborne revolves around ‘good architecture’ and ‘thoughtful landscaping,’ aspiring to build a new town that stands the test of time aesthetically.

Welborne boasts some of Britain’s most eco-friendly homes, powered by a solar farm and an innovative underground heating network tapping into a nearby reservoir.

Petition to Save Green Spaces:

Residents, determined to protect their village character, have taken a stand against the destruction of green spaces.

Kayleigh Rooke initiated a petition, ‘Save Knowle Road Trees and Hedgerows,’ aiming to safeguard the natural charm of Knowle.

The petition has gained substantial support, reflecting the community’s frustration with what they perceive as the ‘complete and utter disregard for how the residents feel.’

Local Businesses Express Concern:

Local businesses, including the Green Chair Salon in Knowle village, have been discussing the Welborne development extensively.

Cally Palmer and Nathan Gerreld, owners of the salon, express resignation over the massive project, with Gerreld noting, ‘I think it’s such a giant that there’s no point in talking about it because it can’t be stopped.’

Impact on Wickham Surgery and GP Services:

Wickham surgery, anticipating an ‘untenable’ situation, prepares to absorb Welborne residents as GP patients.

The surgery issues a statement urging the Integrated Care Board to expand the NHS boundary to prevent endangering their viability due to the influx of patients.

Residents’ Lament and Discontent:

Residents of Knowle, some of whom have lived in the village for decades, express their discontent over the irreversible changes.

Complaints include the destruction of country roads, loss of trees and greenery, and concerns about the character of the village being transformed into a ‘concrete jungle.’

The destruction of the ‘green corridor’ along Knowle Road, promised to remain untouched, adds to the sense of betrayal felt by locals.

Buckland’s Response:

Fiona Gray, Director of Buckland Development, responds to the grievances, emphasizing collaboration with local tree specialists and landscape architects to create ample green spaces.

Despite acknowledging the difficulty for residents witnessing the removal of current verge vegetation, she contends it is unavoidable for essential new services and alternative routes.

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