A COUPLE have won a neighbourhood row as they're given go ahead to build a huge tunnel under their cliffside home.

Richard and Karen Dance wanted to extend an existing tunnel, which leads to a viewing platform with panoramic views, so it runs from their holiday home's basement.

But the pair were criticised by other Isle of Wight residents, who said they were treating the village "like a playground".

The neighbours were also concerned the work could damage the cliff and impact property prices.

The Dances, who are in their 50s, applied for planning permission to extend the "unique" tunnel from their detached home, and under their front garden.

But, the plans divided opinion in the small seaside village.

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Isle of Wight Council, which had to make the call on the tunnel, received six comments objecting to it and six supporting it, its website showed.

All six in objection were worried about what impact the tunnel would have on the integrity of the cliff.

But those in favour, including a structural engineer and geologist, said this would not be the case.

Prior to making their decision today, councillors vowed to challenge the submission on concerns around the cliff.

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And, on giving the Dances the green light for the extension, they decided it was "highly unlikely" the tunnel would affect the cliff.

The application read "the proposal is essentially a domestic extension" aiming to "complete the walk through as it was originally intended in the 1920s".

The entrance to the old tunnel is 30ft from the property and is "not visible from any public vantage point".

The plans add: "One has to know it’s there to be able to see it."

Tig Outlaw, a county and parish councillor who submitted against the tunnel, today said he is "not happy" but "not entirely surprised" by the council's decision.

The councillor said he intended to talk to fellow councillor Paul Brading – who also spoke out against the plans.

They both raised concerns about the cliff being damaged.

Tig said: "We are not going to let that sit without challenging it.

"We generally feel it is not appropriate to be disturbing a cliff which is somewhat fragile.

"Sometimes the decisions don't take into account wider community interest."

But the council said it felt the plans would be '"extremely unlikely to affect cliff stability" based on an expert's analysis.

When approached, Mr Dance declined to comment.

We generally feel it is not appropriate to be disturbing a cliff which is somewhat fragile.

The Dances, who run a string of convenience stores and live in Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest, bought their Isle of Wight holiday home for £470,000 in 2013.

It is now estimated to be worth £650,000.

One of the neighbours who objected the plans, Irmgard Keen, previously said: "Such a project is used as a playground by people who don’t live here permanently and [could cause] damage to the community living here.

"They would do better to spend that money towards supporting the cliff.

"It's a community thing that affects us all and nature is the most important thing.

"Some people do not know what to do with their money."

The 66-year-old and husband Chris, 65, are trying to sell their home and fear the tunnel could devalue nearby properties.

Chris added: "It just seems like an extravagance. It's not the sort of thing you would use every day.

"The last thing we want is for the cliff path to be made impassable.

"It all seems like a bit of a gamble for an unnecessary reason."

But, those in support of plans didn't think this would be the case.

Resident Sam Connelly, 47, director of an engineering company, said: "The cliff has not changed in a hundred years.

"We have glass negatives as evidence to support this, there is no difference between then and now.

"My personal opinion is that [the negative comments are] speculation and amateur opinion with no backing.

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"If you look at the facts, the cliff face is absolutely sound – two independent structural geological reports have been undertaken on the cliff."

Sam added: "It will help stabilise the cliff. These works will protect and lengthen the lifespan of our wonderful cliff path".

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