NEW houses are to replace a former elderly sheltered accommodation after civic chiefs unanimously agreed planning permission yesterday (January 9).

Eleven new houses, ranging in size from two-beds to a seven-bed, are to replace Woolverston, a building on Bereweeke Road consisting of 47 studio and one- bed flats and two bungalows.

Woolverston has been empty for several years and was temporarily used as a student hostel.

Concerns about landscaping were raised by some of the 15 objections submitted stating any loss of trees could cause lengthy damage to the area’s character. The case officer, Jill Lee, said that conditions of the build had been applied to ensure this did not happen.

“[In this case] landscaping is so important,” she said. “The site is now very open to Bereweeke Road whereas before it was screened. It’s very important to get some of the green character back in there.”

However, some councillors raised the issue of integrating the site with the new community ensuring no gates would be built and would still remain fairly visible from the adjacent street at Silwood Close.

Cllr Ian Tait added: “What are we trying to achieve with the landscaping? I’m just concerned that whether there’s any value to the screening so I do hope we’re not just trying to change this into a sleeping beauty’s palace that’s hidden away.”

However, objecting the site was local resident, Karen Barratt, who said the site’s landscaping was just one of a large number of problems, arguing the site could be better used.

“It doesn’t give me much confidence that they take landscaping very seriously if they rip it all out,” she said. “I was more concerned about the site itself and the main impact on the area.”

Ms Barratt also raised issue with the proposed three six- bed and one seven- bed houses on the land.

She said: “How many more millionaires does Winchester want?”

Objections did not sway the councillors who agreed to the build however.

In his summary, Cllr Barry Lipscomb, said: “What we have before us today is a [proposal] by a reputable firm designed by a nationally respected firm of architects and I cannot see this will do anything other than make a positive contribution to the area.”

But one former Woolverston resident was angry at the decision. Asking not to be named, she said; “It is totally outrageous. I feel for the lady who bequeathed the land for the good of the elderly of Winchester. That is what it should have been. It was a joyous place to live.”