CAMPAIGNERS are demanding urgent action to end the “scandal” surrounding an eyesore site in the middle of a Hampshire shopping centre.
The land, which has stood derelict since a chandlery was demolished eight years ago, is covered in rubble, broken glass and the remains of a shed.
A gate leading to adjoining homes means anyone can gain access to the site in Pylewell Road, Hythe.
Neighbours include Harry McCabe, 89, and his wife Jean, 87, whose garden gate has been padlocked and boarded up to prevent people using it as a shortcut to nearby shops.
Mrs McCabe said they were thinking of putting up a fence to replace the one that blew down in the storms earlier this year.
“It’s got to the stage where we just want to block it off,” she said.
Fellow villager Ken Fox added: “This is an ugly eyesore that ruins the attractiveness of the surrounding area.
“There used to be boards surrounding the site to hide it from public view.
“Since they blew down all that’s been done is to erect netting, which does nothing except expose the rubbish tip that the site has become.
“It’s seriously affecting what is otherwise a pretty pedestrian street lined by shops, offices and cafes.
“This is a public scandal in an attractive village that’s known as the gateway to the New Forest and relies heavily on the tourist trade.”
Campaigners have enlisted the support of Brian Dash and other members of the local parish council.
Cllr Dash said: “The land is an eyesore and includes a shed containing goodness knows what.
“Why should villagers have to look at something like that for years on end?”
The site is owned by John Mobey, trading as Solotop Ltd.
A district council spokesman said: “In 2012 we granted planning permission for a ground floor shop and first floor offices to be built on the site.
“However, the owner has advised us that he is not in a position to implement the development.
“We’ve requested the owner clears the site.
“If he fails to comply, the council will have no option but to serve a notice requiring him to undertake the work. If the notice is not acted upon the owner could face prosecution and a fine.”
Mr Mobey said he was applying for planning permission to alter the scheme approved two years ago by building three flats instead of offices.
He claimed the site had been cleared on “numerous occasions”
but was being targeted by vandals and fly-tippers.
“We have sympathy for the residents,”
added Mr Mobey.
“But fly-tipping and vandalism appears to be unavoidable, however much money is spent on clearing the site.”