RESIDENTS of an upmarket Winchester neighbourhood have spoken of their fears over plans for 600-bed student block after previous schemes have had a “hugely detrimental effect” on their homes.

Developers are drafting up proposals for a site next to Winchester University’s main campus in Sparkford Road.

The plans are understood to include land currently occupied by properties at the end of Milnthorpe Lane.

Residents of the private road have seen their surroundings change over the past decade and could see this continue if the development is progressed.

At Winchester City Council’s full council meeting Milnthorpe Lane resident Alison Dudgeon called for the local authority to suspend any further expansions in student accommodation developments until the Local Plan review is complete.

Cllr Jackie Porter, cabinet member for built environment, said: “It is anticipated that the local plan will include a number of housing related policies that respond to requirements identified such as student accommodation, this will ensure that future proposals and any specific matters will be assessed as part of the planning application process.”

In response, Ms Dudgeon said: “It has had a huge detrimental effect on those of us living nearby.

“We are threatened with a 600-bed unit – that just can’t be right.”

Households in Milnthorpe Lane told the Chronicle an initial meeting with an unnamed developer took place earlier this year, however, there had been no updates for months.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “If we could stop it we would.

“This is a very quiet residential lane and there are deep concerns.

“They have said access would be through the campus but our experience is that they do not always stick to what they say.”

Another resident described the plan as “absolutely dreadful” and there was a strong feeling in the community.

A university spokeswoman said: "The university is aware of proposals to develop land in Milnthorpe Lane to provide student accommodation next to the King Alfred Quarter in Sparkford Road. We are currently waiting for detailed proposals from the developer.

"It is important that our students have access to high-quality, affordable accommodation that is located near to the university where possible.

"From time to time the university is approached by developers with proposals for student accommodation schemes. If any developments for on or off campus student accommodation were to be taken forward with the university’s endorsement, then there would be a full consultation with local residents and a formal planning process followed to ensure the development is appropriate to the surrounding area."

St Paul's ward councillor Martin Tod said there is a lack of clear planning policy in relation to student housing that needed to be addressed.

"There is a balance to be had," said Cllr Tod. "We have had problems with not having student housing in certain places but also cases where there have been conversions of family homes into houses in multiple occupancy (HMO).

"The council's planning policies have been running behind where there need to be.

"I know a lot of work has been done by the developer. They are trying to find ways to minimise the impact on neighbouring residents but that is a very special part of Winchester and you can understand why residents are so concerned.

"An important point to make is very strong restrictions have been put on residents who want to develop in that area and we must make sure it is a level playing field."

Planning consultant Ian Tait said: “Where better to build student accommodation – it is right next to the university.”