IT has quickly become one of the most controversial planning applications Winchester has ever seen.

Alan Stone’s proposals to build a house on Water Garden, off Colebrook Street, are still receiving dozens of objections a day.

The total now sits at more than 1,000 – with prominent members of the community adding their names to the list.

Vice Dean of Winchester, Reverend Canon Dr Roland Riem, is one of them. “The approach to the cathedral through the 15th century Bishop’s Gate is a journey of unfolding delight and discovery,” he said.

“Initially one walks past a flint and stone wall behind raised flowerbeds, with a view of the east side of the large house, concealed behind mature trees.

“Under the proposals the north part of this wall would be pierced by two windows, and the new cottage would rise above it, which would detract considerably from the essentially horticultural charm of the approach.

“Then comes the two piers where the watercourse interrupts the wall, and between them, over the stream, is the first glimpse of the upper parts of the cathedral, a foretaste of the more expansive views to be enjoyed once one enters the actual close.

“Although the southern half of the site is to remain a garden for the proposed cottage, its character would be irreparably altered: a secluded secret garden would become a recreational area for the cottage.

“The charm of the approach to the cathedral would be irretrievably diminished.”

Hampshire Chronicle:

The planning notice for the Water Garden scheme

He added that the garden was created by former MP Sir Peter Smithers as a gift to the city he served for 14 years, and should therefore remain untouched.

The Chapter, the governing body at Winchester Cathedral, has also written in support of Dr Riem’s letter.

The City of Winchester Trust has publicly objected – and now its vice chairman, Michael Carden, has too.

In his letter, he said: “For well over half a century this remarkable garden has been enjoyed by local people and visitors alike, using the path through Water Close on their way between the centre of the city and the Cathedral Close.

“Designed solely for public enjoyment by the owner, an eminent horticulturist, assisted by his friend the cathedral architect, and carefully maintained by subsequent owners.

“It should itself have been listed, but no one seems to have appreciated that it needed protection until acquired for development.

“Of course the designer has used every possible means to try to hide the proposed house, fully aware that it should not be there, but it would nevertheless destroy the symmetry and tranquillity of the garden, and spoil the ambience of Water Close, because it effectively roofs and also punctures with windows one half of the attractive wall that is part of the symmetrical design.”

The deadline for making comment was November 11.

There have been two letters of support.