A DEVELOPER stopped from building new homes because they would obstruct views has erected a six foot fence in what campaigners have branded an 'act of belligerent malice'.

Grainger PLC applied for planning permission to build 175 new homes on the land to the east of New Road, between Didcot and East Hagbourne.

This was unanimously refused by South Oxfordshire District Council and an appeal against the decision was dismissed by the Secretary of the State’s Planning Inspector and the High Court.

The inspector said the views should remain open, as development would “have a significant adverse effect on the character and appearance of a valued landscape”.

Villagers have reacted angrily to the construction of the fence which appeared without warning last week.

They say it obscures open views of the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Andy Barmer, Chair of the Mind the Green Gap which campaigned against the development, said: “I have had a deluge of emails and calls from residents horrified at this act of belligerent malice.

He said the 'dreadful eyesore' does exactly what the development was stopped from doing - obscuring the villagers' views of the surrounding countryside.

Grainger PLC say that it was instructed to construct the fence by South Oxfordshire District Council in order to protect the site from trespass by motorcyclists.

A spokesman for the district council confirmed the council had advised the landowner to protect the field but it was the developer that chose to use wooden panels.

He said: “As these panels do not exceed two metres in height they fall within permitted development rights and therefore do not require planning permission.  

"In the interests of the community we have suggested that the developer considers replacing the solid wooden panels with fencing that would provide a view over the field. However, so far they have refused.”

According to residents, Thames Valley Police has confirmed that it has received no complaints about noise or trespass on the site.

Jane Hoskin, a local resident who lives opposite the site, said: “Grainger claim the fence is to protect the land from trespass.

"But this is nonsense – there is no trespass problem.

"The site could have been fenced without hiding the view and they have acted out of spite."

Spokesman for Grainger Kurt Mueller said: “We received a complaint from South Oxfordshire District Council regarding noise and nuisance caused by trespassing on our land by motorbikes and we were requested to secure the land to prevent access by the motorbikes.

"We have therefore had to erect a fence. We’ve been open and transparent on this matter and have supplied proof of this request to anyone that has asked, including members of the Mind the Green Gap.”