Whitchurch residents remain firmly set against controversial plans to build nine houses in the town’s conservation area despite amendments to the proposals.

Nine houses have been proposed for land adjacent to Church Street at The Lawn, the former home of noted judge Lord Denning. Concerns have been raised over the impact the development would have on the conservation area, as well as on the environment and traffic through the town.

The new plans propose that the River Test, which passes through the site, could be made accessible to the public with a footpath, while the developers say that their ecological management plan would lead to a “biodiversity net gain of almost 300 per cent”. Vehicle access to the site would also be widened to assuage concerns.

However, 16 people have objected to the amended plans already, with campaign group Whitchurch: Keep it Special, saying the amendments “do nothing to reduce the harm to the area’s heritage.”

This is a claim rejected by the developers, who say that “no harm is caused to heritage assets and in the event that less than substantial harm is identified, there are net heritage benefits to outweigh such harm.”

The Lawn is the former home of Lord Denning, one of the most notable judges of the 20th century. The site lies within the house’s estate, and has for some time been considered for housing, with plans being drawn up in the 1980s but were not progressed.

The latest planning permission application, originally submitted in November, has proved controversial, with 135 public comments on the plans – the majority of them objecting to the proposals. Whitchurch Town Council also unanimously opposed the plans.

Their objections focus on areas including transport, the environment and the history of the area.

Alexander Wilkins said the plans would add “considerable further strain” on Church Street, with Noel Privet, commenting on the amended proposals, saying it would “create yet more traffic”.

The plan’s transport assessment sought to address these concerns, calculating that the extra traffic would amount to two per cent increase, and no “material impact” on transport. An updated transport note states that a new crossing and path will remove pedestrians from Church Street, and a widened gate will ensure greater accessibility and visibility.

The environment was also raised as a concern, with Dr Louise Evans saying that “harm will be caused to trees and wildlife” on the site, while also stating her concerns about the impact on the River Test. Natural England has previously said the plans “could have potential significant effects” on the River Test and Solent.

A newly-submitted ecological management plan disputes this, however, with planting to support “flower rich and low maintenance grassland,” while a horse paddock nearby will be used to offset nitrates produced by the houses. The plan states there will be a 297.75 per cent increase in “biodiversity units” if the plans go ahead.

The plans are open for public consultation, with anyone wanting to have their say being able to do so by visiting Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s planning portal and searching with the reference: 20/03262/FUL