CAMPAIGNERS fighting to preserve Aldershot's Manor Park site have lost their battle to save the old Farnborough College of Technology buildings.

At the beginning of the month people living near Manor Park in Aldershot were triumphant when Rushmoor Council ruled the buildings could not be demolished.

But following advice from the head of planning that there was no valid reason why the demolition could not go ahead, councillors have now agreed work can begin.

Barratt Southern Counties Ltd bought the seven-acre site in September and are looking to build 139 homes on the land. Protesters argue that the development will ruin the conservation area and cause further congestion on Church Lane East.

One campaigner, Janet Leggett of Church Lane East, expressed her disappointment at the decision: "The council have got a conservation policy that clearly states that a building cannot be demolished on a conservation area without knowing what is going in its place.

"Although the proposal has been submitted it has not been agreed yet so obviously we're disappointed with the council for ignoring their conservation policy."

She commented on the future of the campaign: "The thing is, if the council is going to go against its own policy, then we don't really have much hope.

"But we will not give up. One of the people on our committee has put an awful lot into this and if there is any way of stopping the demolition she will find it.

"We will still be campaigning against the housing proposal and are urging people to continue with the letters to the council. The letters have got to be in by January 18 so we will probably do a leaflet drop to remind anyone who hasn't written yet to do so."

Fellow protester Dick Perren, of Highfield Avenue, commented earlier this month: "From all I have heard about the Manor Park proposals it seems to me it will mean a huge extra demand on local roads and services.

"This is one bit of green land in the centre of Aldershot that should be preserved. Things are getting out of hand and we should stand up and say enough is enough."

When the former Farnborough College of Technology buildings are demolished the area will be backfilled and seeded while Rushmoor Council discuss Barratt's housing plans.

Designs feature shared roads and open space in a safe, traffic-controlled environment where pedestrians and cyclists take precedence. The plans can be seen at the council offices in Farnborough.