THE planning battle over a much-loved Winchester beauty spot has erupted.

As of today, Alan Stone's plans to build on Water Garden have received 480 public objections.

Back in 2018, the former leader of Hampshire Ukip purchased the land off Colebrook Street, sparking fears that it would be developed.

At the time he promised this would not be the case, and is now facing huge opposition.

Ted Wake, the chairman of Hampshire Gardens Trust said: "The Water Close Garden is an exquisite and perfect place that enriches this corner of the heart of Winchester in the most wonderful way.

"For such a small space to create such a strong impact in this location is a reflection of the care, attention and foresight of the original designers and Sir Peter Smithers who left the garden as a fitting legacy for the people of Winchester.

"Anyone who knows the Water Close Garden will know that it would be an act of reckless vandalism to destroy this place for the sole benefit of the owner whose purpose is simply to maximise their financial gain at the expense of all else. "This planning application states disingenuously that the Water Close Garden ‘has no heritage significance’. This is far from the truth."

Orange signs for the planning application only went up last week.

Members of the public have until November 11 to object.

The Water Garden was created by Sir Peter Smithers, who served as Winchester MP from 1950 to 1964.

It features a pond, classical statue underneath a magnolia tree, only some 50 yards from the cathedral.