OUTRAGED residents of a small New Forest village have deluged planning chiefs with 60 objection letters against plans for a major housing development.

An emergency protest meeting was held last month in Ashurst to encourage people to fight the proposal for their community, as reported in the Daily Echo.

Planning bosses at New Forest District Council have not yet decided whether to back the controversial high-density scheme.

Kingfisher Housing Association wants to demolish two pairs of railway cottages, believed to date back to the 1850s, and replace them with affordable housing.

Five terraced houses and a two-storey and three-storey block of flats would be built on the site next to the New Forest Hotel and Ashurst Station in Lyndhurst Road.

On behalf of other concerned residents Rosemary McKay, said: "Many people in Ashurst are deeply concerned. I don't think they realised the local feeling on this one. We will be pursuing this all the way."

The interior designer, of Woodlands Road, added: "We are not against affordable homes in the village. It's just the density of the proposed development put into such a small space together with the dangers of a railway, road and public house and how each one will affect the other.

"In addition this will all be tacked on to the edge of a village next to open forest."

Residents have been meeting regularly to discuss the best way to oppose the application.

Mrs McKay said many are deeply unhappy that Kingfisher will try to secure an exception to the tight planning restrictions in place in the village, which is now part of the New Forest National Park.

The deadline is now closed for people to submit comments on the proposal. Planning chiefs confirmed they received 60 letters of objection, two in support and 11 offering mixed views.

Penny Luke, of Kingfisher Housing Association, said: "Kingfisher Housing Association acquired the site at Lyndhurst Road, Ashurst, in July 2000 to prove much-needed affordable housing.

"This site can only be developed for this purpose and we have worked in partnership with the district council's housing and planning departments as well as the parish council to deliver a scheme that meets the needs of local residents."

The plans will be discussed at the next meeting of Ashurst and Colbury Parish Council on Tuesday at the Church Rooms in Deerleap Lane, Colbury, at 7.30pm.