A MUCH-loved beauty spot which backs onto Winchester Cathedral could be built on, with the proposal sparking a planning battle.

Back in 2018, Alan Stone purchased Water Garden, off Colebrook Street, sparking fears that the land would be developed.

He reassured the city council this would not be the case, saying: "What’s the point of having something that beautiful and building on it?"

But now Mr Stone has applied to construct a two-storey dwelling in the close, as well as form two new openings in the garden wall.

The plan has prompted several calls to the Chronicle from conservationists.

Christopher McCall QC told the Chronicle: "Things change. A planning application has been made and it now seems that the owners no longer see the point of having something so beautiful, and do indeed wish to build on it.

"Private profit is, it seems, to outweigh the loss of public amenity. In view of unqualified assurances given so recently, and given for public consumption, may we hope that the council will see that this is a development which should not be allowed to proceed."

A spokesperson for the City of Winchester Trust said: "We don't just want to half-heartedly object the application because the house does not look very nice, because the applicant will come back with improved plans.

"The principle is we do not want any development here – we are keen to not have anything that will ruin the symmetry of this very peaceful area.

"We are doing all we can to make people aware of these plans."

The spokesperson added that the planning application was submitted to the city council on September 14, but the orange notices were not put up until around October 24.

Members of the public have until mid-November to send written representations.

The Water Garden was created by Sir Peter Smithers, who served as Winchester MP from 1950 to 1964. It features a pond, classicial statue underneath a magnolia tree, only some 50 yards from the west end of the cathedral.

Stephen Harte has publicly objected to the application.

In a letter to city council planning officers he said: "Currently all who use the Water Close footpath to the cathedral enjoy the elegant water garden to Colebrook House.

"The rectangle of water is viewed through an opening flanked by well shaped piers each capped with a stone obelisk with open ironwork ornamental rail.

"The landscape open to public view has been designed with care for detail.

"This planning submission omits the most significant view through the pillars and the peripheral part hidden landscape each side.

"The proposal destroys the established formal symmetry of the landscape setting as viewed from Water Close."

The Chronicle has contacted the Richard Lowe who is Mr Stone's agent and awaits a response.

Alan Stone is the former leader of Hampshire Ukip.