RESIDENTS fighting a council’s plans to build on their nature reserve are stronger in spirit and numbers after their “extremely successful” demonstration.

About 120 campaigners gathered on Whitehawk Hill near Brighton Racecourse on Sunday to bless the “ancient” stones placed along the nature reserve while chanting: “Blessed are they that respecteth their people’s landmarks” and “Cursed are they that removeth their people’s landmarks”.

Residents ritually struck each of the stones, known as boundary stones, with different types of branches. The people neighbouring the proposed building site have been campaigning against Brighton and Hove City Council and Hyde Housing Group who want to partner up to build 217 new homes across five tower blocks on Whitehawk Hill.

Their most recent campaign “Beating the Bounds” took their protesting to a more spiritual level and included more people.

Dave Bangs, local conservationist, said: “It was extremely successful. We called it to emphasise the threatened status of “The Race Ground”, which is common land, and has been so for more than 1,000 years. The building project will shatter our nature reserve. It will break it in two, irreparably damaging the wildlife that the reserve is meant to protect and it will further overcrowd our already overcrowded Valley.”

A spokesman for council and Hyde Housing partnership said: “As part of that urban fringe assessment, landscape and ecology appraisals were carried out on the site. They found that housing can be developed without significant adverse impact on the Local Nature Reserve, as long as certain ecological mitigations are in place.”