A PLAN to transform a countryside meadow into a housing development has had residents up in arms in Stockbridge.

Retirement housing builder McCarthy and Stone revealed its initial proposal to a packed-out parish council meeting on June 21 at Stockbridge Town Hall.

The developer hopes to build 39 retirement apartments, 20 bungalows or cottages and a 120-space car park using the site of the Old Police Station and Copperknobs, south of High Street.

Despite the plan being in its early stages, residents have launched a “Save Our Stockbridge” petition and committee against the homes which they see as detrimental to the town’s surroundings.

Staunch opposer Bruce Williams said: “The whole thing is a disaster. I’m not being a NIMBY, I’m just being passionate about where I live.

“They are developing outside the area plan, outside the village envelope, on a floodplain and in a conservation area.

“We do not want the beauty of Stockbridge to disappear for the sake of a few bank accounts.”

At a parish council meeting on Thursday last week McCarthy and Stone spokesman Ed Garcia said the developer’s wished to get the backing of the community in this project, to which he was met with laughter.

Mr Garcia told parishioners the plans included a way to ease Stockbridge’s car parking strains by building a car park, despite having no confirmation of how it would be run.

McCarthy and Stone regional managing director Shane Paull said: “We are in the early stages of developing plans for the site’s redevelopment with specialist retirement accommodation, which would also create a valuable new public car park with up to 120 spaces for local people.

“We are looking forward to engaging with the community and local stakeholders as we progress our plans over the coming months.”

The parish council has also come under fire after Stockbridge Parish Council chairman Richard Foord was asked whether he and the council represent the views of Stockbridge people, to which he replied ‘I represent my own views’.

Resident and business owner Suzannah Jackson said: “I’m shocked and appalled that the leader of the council said I’m here to present my own views. That is absolutely outrageous.

“I’m not against the development I’m against the attitude of the parish council.

“I would like to make the point we have an ageing population in Stockbridge, I think it would be better to have some [houses] for younger people and affordable housing I think that would be fairer and better.”

Councillor Foord has since said as a councillor he does the best he can.

The parish council met to decide whether to enter into consultation with McCarthy and Stone.

Cllr Richard Foord said: “I wasn’t surprised by the reaction [from residents]. It could be an emotive issue, Any development in a small village is going to cause a bit of anxiety.”

“We still hope for the public’s involvement. We are going to go all the way through this so everybody gets a say and it is done correctly.”

The Save Our Stockbridge committee is meeting for the first time on July 4 to gather views from locals on the plan.