A LAND owner who started to convert a Hampshire meadow has been told to stop until he gets planning permission.

Nick Butler faced backlash from residents after developing the site near Soberton, where he plans to live in a converted trailer.

Now, at the request of a local councillor, Winchester City Council has issued a temporary stop notice.

The full terms are currently unknown but Central Meon Valley Councillor Victoria Weston said that Mr Butler is "aware of the implications of any undertaking of any further works on the site without appropriate permission in the next 28 days".

She said: "We need to keep this case on the burner and insist that the trailer is removed. I have not seen the conditions of the stop notice, but we should be insisting that a converted trailer is not the type of accommodation that is acceptable in the countryside.

"The planning laws are the same for everyone and the rural environment is precious so we must protect it from illegal development. If you buy land with some grand design in your mind do not start work until you have applied and then received planning permission, even if you are advised otherwise.

"Local people have the right to object to an unwanted development and must be given the opportunity to comment or ask for modifications to a scheme. This is all part of respect for the countryside and it’s ecology, which is at serious risk.

"This area of the beautiful Meon Valley bordering the South Downs National Park does not have main drains and any untreated sewage and other run-off will pollute the ditches and rivers and then the Solent, not only harming wildlife but risking human health too."

Soberton resident Angus McCullough told the Chronicle that villagers are "watching on in horror".

"Hedgerows have been grubbed out and the field is being filled with rubble to create hard-standings for a trailer park," he said.

"The owner, Mr Nick Butler, is pressing on without planning permission in this pristine rural site, and is heedless to pleas to apply for permission before continuing with the works which may be causing irreparable harm to a site which hosts a range of wildlife, including a rare breeding butterfly – the beautiful Brown Hairstreak.

"The new owner is setting about developing it with gusto, and has been on the site in recent weeks, including through the bank holiday weekend.

"So far he has ripped out a stretch of hedgerow in the middle of the bird nesting season, to create a very wide gated entrance with concrete apron, culvert and piping; has been grubbing out the hedge bottoms with a digger."

Lorry loads of rubble have been spotted at the meadow, and other earthworks are reportedly being carried out.

Mr McCullough added: "He has made it clear to anyone that asks (including local resident Councillor Vicki Weston) that he proposes to go ahead and develop, and if necessary seek retrospective planning permission, which course he says has been advised by his ‘architect’."

The Chronicle has contacted landowner Mr Butler and awaits a response.