WARD councillors have said they have been left ‘shocked’ by the sudden halt of a housing development.

The former hostel for homeless women in South Ham has been vacant for five years and was earmarked to be overhauled into new living accommodation.

After being left derelict and an attraction for vandals, South Ham ward councillors had put pressure on to transform Sandringham Court in Paddock Road.

As previously reported in the Gazette, planning permission was granted for owners Clarion Housing Association (formerly Affinity Sutton) to build 10 two-bedroom flats and three one-bedroom flats, with all 13 flats being let as affordable homes.

However, despite funding and permission being granted, work on the site has come to a stop with ‘no clear explanation.’

Ward councillors Cllr Seán Keating, Cllr Colin Regan and Cllr Gary Watts, are now calling for Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to take legal action again the applicants.

Cllr Watts said: “Clarion’s actions in holding up the much-required affordable accommodation has betrayed local residents and especially those on the ever-lengthening housing waiting list.

“They are also ignoring the rapid declining condition of the building. We are pressurising the Council to ensure that Clarion secure the building and live up to their legal obligations.”

The borough council said it is working with the housing association to ensure the site is safe following a recent spate of vandalism in the area.

Executive director of borough services, Rebecca Emmett, said: “Our environmental health team has been to Sandringham Court following concerns around vandalism to the building. We are working with Clarion Housing Association to ensure the site is safe and also to understand their position in terms of developing the site in line with the approved planning application.”