A BID to build affordable homes in a Lake District town has been scuppered by second home owners.
They have paid thousands of pounds to buy the land in Ambleside on which the properties were to be built.
Seven houses and four bungalows had been pencilled in to be erected in a field at the end of a Fisherbeck Park, a quiet cul-de-sac in the town.
But overlooking properties – including two holiday lets, a second home owner and two long-standing residents – agreed a deal with the land owner to buy the site.
It is understood they now plan to make their gardens bigger.
Affordable housing campaigners had spent four years drawing up the scheme which was opposed by around 40 nearby property owners.
Permission for the scheme to go ahead had been given by the Lake District National Park Authority.
Residents on the street said it was the wrong site but Coun Heidi Halliday, who represents Ambleside on South Lakeland District Council, said she was ‘appalled’ by what had happened.
“What these people don’t realise or fail to remember is they’ve scuppered the chance of people that serve them in shops, that pour their drinks in cafes or clean for them or mend their cars, of having a chance of living here.”
“It’s almost like they are saying you are good enough to serve us, but not good enough to live next to us.”
The plot was one of only three official sites in Ambleside set aside for affordable homes. South Lakeland District Council said 160 people are on its waiting list for housing in the town.
Work was due to involve housebuilder Russell Armer and Two Castles Housing.
Martyn Nicholson, of Russell Armer, said: “We are extremely disappointed after all the hard work put in. It is a great loss for the people of Ambleside desperate for an affordable home in the place in which they live and work.”
Rob Brittain, of Two Castles Housing Association, said: “It is frustrating that we heard about the sale of the land after the deal had taken place. We are incredibly disappointed that this opportunity for much-needed affordable housing for local people in the area has been blocked in this way.”
When approached by the Gazette, those involved in the purchase declined to comment.
However, Nick Davenport, an Ambleside solicitor acting on behalf of the site purchasers, said: “There were extensive objections to the original planning permission from local civil society organisations including for example Friends of the Lake District etc.
“One described it as “an act of vandalism."
“They further understood that the developer did not exercise an option they had to purchase the land.
“In any event they were approached by the landowner to see if they were interested in the purchase.
“Agreement was reached and the purchase completed. My clients would like to emphasise that their intention is to preserve the countryside of the Lake District in this prominent and highly visible location.”
It is known there has been a long-standing legal wrangle relating to ownership of the access to the field.
Nearby resident Ashley Cooper, who has a home opposite with stunning views across to Wetherlam and Todd Cragg, says it would have been ruined by the scheme.
Mr Cooper was not involved in the purchase but explained: “I don’t agree with second homes and holiday lets everywhere and we do need affordable housing but it does need to be in the right place.
“The plans put in were pretty anti-social because the way it had been designed, there were bungalows and two-storey houses. The national park says you don’t have a right to a view but if you’ve paid half-a-million quid for your house – £200,000 of that is the view.”