A SCHEME to build hundreds of student units in Winchester is poised to be launched, the Chronicle can reveal.

The Chronicle understands that Williams Ewan are preparing to launch a scheme for 600 units at Milnthorpe Lane, near Winchester University.

The lane is very close to the main campus, and there have been discussions between residents and the university about development.

It is a quiet residential area, and residents say they want to keep it that way and oppose major student development.

It is understood a planning application is likely to be submitted before the end of the year.

Rufus Boyd, chairman of the Milnthorpe Lane Residents Association, said: "We are aware that the developer has been looking at multiple options, but this is the first we have heard of something crystallising.

"It is pretty disrespectful to leave the most affected parties out of the discussion. If it is the scale of 600 units, that is huge. This means the destruction of the lane as we known it.

"It is very sad because these decisions seem to be being made in closed rooms to which we have no access.

"We would have little faith of a fair hearing at any planning committee. It is disappointing as planning laws are not just there to facilitate development, but to protect the rights and interests of residents. I fear we will not be heard at all."

Mike Pye, 73, who has lived in the road for 34 years, said the developer has been trying to buy his home, but that he and his wife will not be moved.

Mr Pye explained that there are restrictions on use of the area: "They can't do it because me and my neighbour have a covenant on the land and we will not allow it. It is a residential road and this would absolutely ruin it."

Currently there is a building site, where Williams Ewan vehicles are parked, supposed to be a building site, but according to residents nothing has been built there and it is currently a "dumping ground".

Mr Pye said that this would form part of the site, along with properties close to it, so they can have enough land for a "cluster unit".

He added: "They would like to buy houses and redevelop the whole of this site, but we said we are not interested in moving.

"The fact is it would be a big chunky site here but the fundamental thing is they can't do it. We have talked to them about it and we have said no.

"I can't imagine anyone on the lane is open-minded about student accommodation."

Another resident, who asked for his name to be withheld, said: "It sounds pretty gruesome to me, I would be very unhappy about that."

Milnthorpe Lane resident Phillip Webb said: "I would not welcome it, I would think a lot of people feel the same. "It would upset the traffic along the lane and the noise from students coming home at night would be an issue."

Another resident said: "It would have a severe effect on the lane, I want to know a few more details but I would not be happy about it."

The local ward councillor, Jamie Scott, said he was aware of potential development, which had been mentioned in a university liaison meeting.

Cllr Scott said: “Something was mentioned at the university liaison meeting. The discussions there seemed to be frank and open about the possibility of future development and Milnthorpe Lane was mentioned at the meeting.

“Some residents who attended the meeting seemed to be saying that there was logic in having purpose-built homes close to the campus.

“But the concerns raised was some form of access should be opened on the university side to stop too much traffic coming through.

"It was not as hostile as I expected, but the concern was a closed access in Milnthorpe Lane, there are concerns about more pedestrian access how would you enclose a lane like that. I do not know how you would get that right."

Robert Williams, managing director of Williams Ewan, told the Chronicle it would not be “appropriate” to comment, although he did not deny that there is a scheme in the pipeline.