APPROVAL to build a “massive mansion” in a village’s woodland has left residents up in arms over fears for wildlife and conservation.

Houghton’s ‘Listen to Us’ group has come out in force against the plan to build a home with four en-suite bedrooms, a dressing room for the master bedroom and living rooms covering the “entire width” of the ground floor, on the 0.74 acre wooded site.

Test Valley Borough Council’s planning control committee approved the bid on November 6, overturning the refusal made against the plan by councillors a month earlier. An application for the build was also refused in 2017.

Villagers say the development will fell a large number of mature trees and badly impact the protected wildlife in the wood, including a rookery, owls, bats and slow worms.

Alan Young, resident and vice-chair of Houghton Parish Council, said: “We feel this is a great injustice. The planning department appears to have been completely inconsistent, it rejected the first application to develop this woodland, but now it allows the development, which appears to fly in the face of the existing Woodland Preservation Order.”

An ecology survey of the woodland found eight species of bats and rare wildlife such as a spotted flycatcher bird.

The villagers feel “utter disgust” for the council’s decision, and for ‘disregarding local views’.

A total of 40 letters of objection were made by residents.

Alan added: “We are a conservation village, we have had four small copses and every single one apart from this one has gone now, all gone to housing.

“There is no need for big, local houses, what we do need is small, low cost accommodation. We are anything but NIMBYS.”

In response to the group’s concerns, the borough council told The Advertiser each planning application is considered on individual merits and that in this case the development was seen as acceptable.

Deputy leader of the borough council, Councillor Nick Adams-King said: “Letters submitted by the public and the parish council were reported to members of the Planning Control Committee and fully taken into account before they determined the outcome of the application.

“Expert advice was sought from conservation, ecology and tree officers, and there were no objections in this case. As a result, Planning Control Committee agreed to grant planning permission.”