RESIDENTS protesting over a mountain bike park at Chewton Bunny are rapidly gathering support for their campaign.

More than 200 dog walkers, residents and visitors to the Bunny have signed a petition calling on the council to think again about the location of the plans.

Christchurch Borough Council is consulting on proposals to improve the area by creating different sections for recreation and mountain biking.

Council officers recently agreed not to decide on the planning application until the consultation ends on February 3.

The results of the consultation will go before members of the community services committee on February 29 and, if approved, March 1’s planning committee.

Upset resident Andrew Ellis said: “The Bunny is unique – a fragile environment that, once spoiled, cannot easily be restored.

“It is loved by users of all ages and free access is highly valued by all – be they walkers, with or without dogs, small children and families or lovers of nature.

“Bikers actually represent a very small minority of interest compared to these people.

“We’re not against such a facility for youngsters but this is not the right place.”

The residents are also surprised no other sites have been considered for the park and have urged the council to look for more “suitable sites”.

Resident Ray Burroughs added: “The total area for the park is very small. When they are talking about putting ramps in, there will be very little space.

“There are a number of issues with the planning application that we have raised. It is going to be dangerous.”

Margaret Clarke, of the Grey-stones development overlooking the Bunny, said residents were concerned about the park.

“This is a retirement complex and when people retire they want peace and quiet, not a mountain biking park metres away from their homes”, she said.

To comment on the plans go to

The Chewton Bunny proposals

• Removing the old tarmac sections under the grassy open space below the cafe.

• Resurfacing the main tarmac path through to the cliffs and beach.

• Extending the main tarmac path through to Greystones.

• A skills area for mountain bike riders creating a pump track and obstacles made from natural materials.

• Short sections of low level post and rail fencing to define the mountain bike area from the open space.

Those in favour

Steve Clarke, who lives in Highcliffe, said: “I live and grew up in Highcliffe and spent my youth playing in and around the Bunny and the land has been run down and never really used to its full potential.

“I think the mountain bike park is a fantastic idea. My son, Sam and I go all over the place to use parks like this.

“It’s a shame when something really cool comes along that it immediately gets the thumbs down from some people.”

Leeland Gosden, 19, who works at the shop Bike Works in Waterford Road, just along from the prospective site, said: “I will definitely give it a go.

“But I don’t think residents should worry about loads and loads of people coming down.”