Dr Julia Reid MEP, who represents the South West Counties & Gibraltar, has condemned plans to build new homes on a highly valued and much-used area of the Chichester Walk Recreation Grounds in Merley, Dorset.

Due to the overwhelming objection from local residents, the controversial plans have been returned to the applicant for modification, however, local residents argue that the amended plans have still not addressed their concerns.

Members of the Merley Community Forum have been fighting to save the valued open space at Chichester Recreation Ground from a housing development for the past three years. Reportedly, the recreational grounds are used by the local community as a place for dog walking, picnics and cycling and other recreational activities.

The planning proposal was for 14 properties and one coach house apartment on the recreational area, however, this was met with 134 responses from the Merley community, of which 132 were objections.

Dr Julia Reid MEP said: “It’s quite clear from the response that this recreational area is highly valued by the local community and is being used for an extensive number of recreational activities which are extremely important when we are trying to encourage people to exercise more regularly.”

“Research has also shown that green spaces like these can have a long-lasting positive impact on one’s mental wellbeing, therefore, it wouldn’t be right to deprive the community of this by vastly reducing the size of their recreational area.”

Dr Reid added: “Although the plans were recently amended, the feedback online suggests that the local residents are struggling to identify what revisions, if any at all, have actually been made to the new proposal. From this, it is quite clear that their concerns have not been addressed.”

One local resident urged fellow users of the recreational grounds to keep up the fight and suggested that a lack of responses will lead the council to believe that their concerns have been allayed.

The Planning and Regeneration Manager for Poole Council has advised residents that they have until 11/05/2017 to respond to the amendments.